This week, U.S. Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester testified before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on their bipartisan bill to reverse the ruling of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cottonwood Environmental Law Center v. U.S. Forest Service.

Senator Tester railed against the court decision that has helped lead to over one million acres burning this past summer.

“The Cottonwood decision has already led to injunctions on five vegetation management projects in Montana alone,” Teste4r said. “One of those, the Stonewall Vegetation Project included fire mitigation work and part of that, burned this summer as well. Across regions one, two and four at least 80 projects are at risk. This bill is targeted, it’s a bipartisan fix to this court case. We need to support the recovery of endangered species there's no doubt about that  – but blocking forest management across the board is not going to help our forests.”

Senator Daines echoed Tester’s comment.

“Today there are five forest management projects in Montana, comprising over 150 million board feet of timber that have been blocked through injunctions due to the Cottonwood decision,” said Daines. “These projects were designed to achieve critical objectives such as reducing the risk of wildfires, improving habitat and protecting water quality. Perhaps the most alarming example and Senator Tester just alluded to it, was the injunction of the Stonewall Vegetation Project near Lincoln, Montana. This project was enjoined this past spring just days before the work was scheduled to begin, and about one month later guess what happened? Fires broke out on some of the very acres that would have been treated under this project. While I can't say the project would have prevented the fire, the mere fact that wildfires occurred in areas that could not be treated due to the Cottonwood shows that we need to urgently pass my bipartisan legislation to statutorily reverse this decision.”

The legislation is called the Litigation Relief or Forest Management Act