Gianforte Calls for More Action to Improve Forest Health
At a recent congressional hearing, Congressman Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) praised the effectiveness of Good Neighbor Authority in promoting forest health and called for more action to improve the resiliency of federal forests.
Gianforte hailed efforts to boost forest management through Good Neighbor Authority (GNA), which allows the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to partner with state and local governments to carry out projects. Gianforte described successes of the program in Region 1, which includes Montana, North Dakota, and parts of Idaho, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
At the hearing in the House Natural Resources Committee, Gianforte also spoke in support of the Trillion Trees Acts, H.R. 5859. Introduced by Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.), the legislation establishes forest management, reforestation, and utilization practices which lead to the sequestration of greenhouse gases.
“[The Trillion Trees Act] will help improve wildlife habitat and prevent soil erosion and damage,” Gianforte said. “Importantly, it can also boost our local economies, create good-paying jobs, grow opportunities in impacted communities, and reduce wildfire risk.”
“Forests are an important carbon sink,” Gianforte said, “so making use of timber that locks up the carbon while planting more trees is a win for everyone.”
In late February, Gianforte met with USFS officials in Missoula to discuss the progress they have made on improving forest health through GNA. At the meeting, a federal forester from Region 1 told Gianforte that GNA has netted 14 projects this year and next that will yield around 55 million board feet of timber
Before 2018, federal law granted GNA only to state governments. The 2018 Farm Bill, however, expanded GNA to county governments, a policy Gianforte strongly advocated.