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'Resilient Federal Forests Act' Advances In The House

Truck carrying timber
Bell & Jeff (CC-BY-2.0)

A bill to to expedite forest management activities on federal forests continues to pick up steam in Congress.

The "Resilient Federal Forests Act" passed out of the House Agriculture committee Wednesday.Supporters say it’s needed to improve the health of the nation's overgrown and fire-prone federal forests. But it's also raising eyebrows among some environmental groups.

Scott Brennan is Montana Director of the The Wilderness Society.

"It really undermines some bedrock environmental laws that have protected clean water and clean air and fish and wildlife habitat. The bill picks winners and losers, pits interests against each other and wasn't developed with much substantive collaborative input here in Montana," Brennan says.

People not part of a collaborative timber planning process would have to post a bond before they could sue. If they lose in court, they’d be required to cover the federal government’s legal bill. Opponents say that short changes the public's right to challenge poorly-planned projects.

Bill co-sponsor, Republican Congressman Ryan Zinke, says it doesn't skirt one federal or state environmental law and encourages an open timber planning process.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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