Congressman Greg Gianforte says some changes to public lands management he’s been pushing for have made it into the draft of the Farm Bill Congress is expected to take up in couple of weeks.
The Farm Bill helps direct the U.S. Forest Service, which is part of the Department of Agriculture.
Gianforte says the bill includes so-called categorical exclusions for certain kinds of projects.
That means they’re excluded from provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act, which were put in place to protect the environment, but can also slow down permitting.
"We’ve added another provision for, under categorical exclusions, to remove hazardous trees, and also a categorical exclusion to develop recreational facilities on public land, Gianforte says.
Conservation groups have criticized a previous Farm Bill, passed in 2014, for allowing too many categorical exclusions, including one which allows some timber sales of up to 3,000 acres in size to go forward without Environmental Policy Act review. Gianforte says the new Farm Bill proposes doubling that exclusion to allow timber sales of up to 6,000 acres.
Gianforte made the remarks at a Montana Association of Counties meeting in Missoula Tuesday, May 1, 2018.