Gianforte, Local Official Advocate Forest Management Reform on Capitol Hill
Washington, D.C. – Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte and Ravalli County Commissioner Greg Chilcott addressed the need for effective forest management in a congressional hearing yesterday.
A member of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Gianforte introduced Chilcott at a subcommittee hearing on “Exploring Solutions to Reduce Risks of Catastrophic Wildfire and Improve Resiliency of National Forests.”
Commissioner Chilcott provided insight about the challenges Montana’s local officials face with wildfires.
“Our once-vibrant timber has been left in shambles, our infrastructure decimated, and our scenic beauty scarred for decades to come. These trends will continue unless Congress acts,” Chilcott said.
Chilcott advocated an approach to federal forest management that seeks and values the input of local communities. Chilcott continued, “We need federal policy that promotes a local, collaborative, consensus-driven, decision-making process. Counties know that forests can be actively managed in a sustainable manner ensuring the health of our federal lands and our local communities.”
Chilcott testified, “Active forest management will help us achieve the healthy forests that are essential to clean air and clean water. By improving forest’s health and reducing the dead and dying timber, we can reestablish a thriving ecosystem that improves the economy and the environment.”
Gianforte is a co-sponsor of the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017. The legislation is a bipartisan solution that addresses how federal forests are managed. The bill streamlines the approval process for forest management projects by encouraging parties to come to the table early instead of filing frivolous lawsuits late in the process to block approved projects. The measure solves how the federal government funds the suppression of catastrophic fires and responsibly ends the process of fire-borrowing. The legislation also provides for an expedited review for collaborative projects up to 30,000 acres in size, and it requires analysis to be weighed against a “no action” alternative and the impacts of doing nothing on forest health.
During the summer, Gianforte met with local officials as well as incident commanders and firefighters during his listening tour of Montana’s 56 counties. Local leaders provided feedback about how to address wildfires. Incident commanders and firefighters at five fires – including the July fire in Zortman, the Lodgepole Complex fires, the Bruner Mountain fire, the Park Creek fire, and the Lolo Peak fire – discussed efforts to contain wildfires.
Video of Gianforte’s introduction of Chilcott may be found here here.
Video of Chilcott’s testimony on the need for forest management reform may be found here.
Video of Gianforte discussing effective forest management with Chilcott may be found here.