Steve Daines

09/16/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/16/2020 18:56

Daines’ Bipartisan Wildfire Prevention Bill Takes Center Stage at Senate Hearing

09.16.20

U.S. SENATE - Today at a U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Steve Daines stressed the importance of passing his bipartisan wildfire prevention and forest management reform bill which will protect Montana communities from deadly wildfires, promote public safety and health, and create good paying timber jobs. Daines introduced his bipartisan bill with Senator Feinstein of California.

To download a clip of the Senator's remarks click, HERE

To download full remarks click, HERE

'We are at a critical time. The West is burning. People are dying. And our way of life as we know it is in danger… My bill with Senator Feinstein offers 53 pages worth of solutions,' Daines said. 'Now is the time to come together, Democrat and Republican, and pass meaningful forestry reform - my bipartisan bill does just that,' Daines said.

At the hearing, Daines thanked first responders, law enforcement, fire officials and more for their work battling the fires in Montana and across the West, and he held a moment of silence for those who lost their lives because of the fires, including two Montanans: Sara Madsen and Tom Duffy.

Daines and Feinstein speaking at today's hearing

Daines' bipartisan bill will create good paying timber jobs, reduce frivolous litigation, protect wildlife habitats and air and water quality, and reduce the risk of wildfire in at-risk communities. Daines' bill is especially critical during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as wildfires make conditions worse for Montanans with health risks and respiratory illnesses and wildland firefighters are at a greater risk than usual.

Daines' bipartisan legislation has received significant support from stakeholders across the country.

Statements of Support:

In addition to the statements of support below, Daines received letters of support from Boone and Crockett Club, Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, Mule Deer Foundation, National Deer Alliance, National Wild Turkey Federation, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Ruffed Grouse Society, Wildlife Management Institute, Wild Sheep Foundation, California Governor Gavin Newsom (D), Forest Resource Association, Federal Forest Resource Coalition, Farm Bureau Federations of the Western States, NorthWestern Energy, Montana Electric Cooperatives Association, Neptune Aviation, National Association of State Foresters, National Association of Conservation Districts, MT Wood Products Association, Montana Telecommunications Association, Montana Logging Association, Family Farm Alliance, and MT Water Resources Association. To read the letters click HERE.

'RMEF strongly supports active forest management. Doing so not only creates and enhances habitat for elk and other wildlife but it greatly improves overall forest health while reducing the potential for catastrophic wildfire. There are a number of examples in several different states where wildfires came up against past RMEF habitat enhancement projects and the flames almost immediately died down because they lost their fuel, allowing firefighters to make a successful stand.' - Blake Henning, Chief Conservation Officer, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

'The Treasure State Resources Association (TSRA) is pleased to support the Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act of 2020. As a diverse association of industry, agriculture, labor, and recreation interests, we understand the complex challenges of forest management require a common sense approach. The science-based reforms contained in this bill are the exact kind of bipartisan approach needed to put Montanans to work, while protecting communities and critical infrastructure from catastrophic wildfires. We applaud the work of Senators Daines and Feinstein to craft this legislation and look forward to seeing it signed into law.' - Mark Baker, President, TSRA

'The health of America's federal forest lands, the largest single source of fresh water in our nation, continue to be threatened by catastrophic wildfire. The Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act embraces collaborative polices that will improve forest health and watershed health while protecting critical water infrastructure and communities. The nation's water providers are grateful to Senator Feinstein and Senator Daines for their leadership on this issue.' - Ian Lyle, Executive Vice President, National Water Resources Association

'The Montana Fire Trustees Association supports Senator Daines' efforts to help reduce the intensity of wildfires and protect lives, homes ,and our forests. The Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act will give land managers additional tools and resources to help protect our communities. This legislation comes at a time when these resources are needed more than ever and we look forward to seeing this legislation move forward.' - Bonnie Jones, Montana Fire Trustee Association

'The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) applauds the leadership of Senators Feinstein (D-CA) and Daines (R-MT) in producing S. 4431, the Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act of 2020. One of ACWA's highest priorities is the protection of valuable watersheds from high intensity wildfires. This bipartisan legislation will help address the dangers posed by the unhealthy condition of our forests that are magnified by our changing climate and more perilous fire behavior' - Dave Eggerton, Executive Director, Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA)

'Forests and fire have been in the center of the American conservation story for well over a century - the Great Fire of 1910 that burned three million acres in western Montana and northern Idaho inspired nationwide recognition of the importance of active forest management to prevent future fires. Regrettably, decades of fire suppression coupled with insect and disease in our forests is resulting once again in devastating fire seasons like the one we are seeing this year. As a dedicated group of hunter conservationists, the Boone and Crockett Club has long recognized that active forest management is essential for the health of our forests. We support the Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act pending before the Senate and appreciate Senator Steve Daines' leadership on this legislation.' -Tim Brady, President, Boone and Crockett Club,

'The Montana Wood Products Association applauds Senators Daines and Feinstein in their dedication and hard work to craft a bill that provides additional tools for public land managers to reduce hazardous fuels. With over 5 million acres ravaged by wildfire this year, and the loss of 35 lives and countless homes, with no end in sight, the bill could not be more timely! We implore congress to act quickly.' - Julia Altemus, Executive Director, Montana Wood Products Association

'Senators Daines and Feinstein deserve great credit for bringing this bill forward and actually trying to do something --instead of just pointing fingers. Commonsense, intelligent, active forest management is desperately needed to reduce the fuel accumulation and wildfire risk, as well as to promote healthier forests and produce jobs. Bravo!' - Raymond Clark

'Forests across the United States need more active management. Active management is central to the health, productivity, and resiliency of all forests. Forest diseases and pests know no boundaries and easily spread across ownerships to negatively affect even the healthiest of forests. NASF applauds the bipartisan approach of the Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act to promote working across boundaries to improve our forests and make them less prone to wildfire risk.' - Greg Josten, President, National Association of State Foresters

'The only way to protect the health and productivity of all of our nation's forests is by managing them all to be more resilient. Greater forest management requires coordination among state and federal natural resource agencies, private forestland owners, and private and non-profit forestry organizations. NASF supports expanding proposed authorities provided in this bill, in order to benefit all of America's forests.' - Jay Farrell, Executive Director, National Association of State Foresters

'The Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act of 2020 is forward thinking legislation that provides important tools to reduce the threat of disastrous wildfires. PCWA has experienced mega-fire first hand and has invested heavily in mitigation. With that experience, we applaud the leadership of Senator Feinstein and Senator Daines. This bill recognizes the importance of private and public interests coming together to fund and implement active forest management on public land. It also expands the ability to treat and utilize biomass and establishes a program to train a new generation of skilled workers to better manage forest resources.' - Andy Fecko, General Manager, Placer County Water Agency

'Our National Forests in the United States have experienced increased mortality rates over the last 25 years of nearly 93 percent, which is the critical link that fuels these traumatic wildfires we are seeing today. These fires damage our forests that remove CO2 from the air, and instead release substantial amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. The Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act provides necessary tools to federal agencies to sustainably manage our nation's forests and reduce the fuel hazards. This legislation is a path towards improving forest health and carbon sequestration on our National Forest System Lands.' - Deb Hawkinson, President, Forest Resource Association

'The devastation of western forests, communities and infrastructure this year underscores the critical need for the Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act. This bill includes important provisions to reduce the risk of fire in utility infrastructure, allowing our members to take precautions to continue to provide safe, reliable electricity to farms, ranches, businesses and communities. We recognize Senators Daines and Feinstein for introducing this essential bipartisan legislation and encourage the Senate to pass it without delay.' - Gary Wiens, Montana Electric Cooperatives' Association, Chief Executive Officer

'The bipartisan 'Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act' is a major leap forward for collaborative forest management and wildfire prevention across our state. Over 600,000 Montanans live in areas that are at high-risk for wildfire. Unfortunately, for years public land managers and their local partners have been left without the tools needed to reduce wildfire risk and keep our communities safe. This Act addresses these challenges by mandating and streamlining collaborative forest projects that reduce fuel build-up and bolster local fire proofing measures. At the same time, the bill gives the Forest Service the necessary authority to accelerate restoration and salvage operations after a wildfire. As Montana communities continue to expand into forested lands, the risk for catastrophic wildfires like the ones witnessed in California grows greater every year. This legislation could not be more timely or more needed and I applaud Senator Daines for bringing bipartisan solutions to one of the greatest challenges facing the west.' - Jim McCormick, Lewis and Clark County Commissioner

'The National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) applauds the introduction of the bipartisan Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act of 2020 for addressing forestry management and wildfire prevention as wildfires continue to grow in size and severity. This legislation will provide natural resource managers with the common sense tools they need to succeed, including targeted categorical exclusions, allowing them to make the best local determinations for managing the landscape to prevent future wildfires.' - Tim Palmer, President, The National Association of Conservation Districts

'We would like to thank Senator Daines for this major breakthrough on bipartisan forest management reform. Frivolous litigation must end and we need to be able to help prevent catastrophic wildfires. This legislation addresses both important issues and our members stand ready to assist.' - Bryan Lorengo, Southwest Regional Representative, Montana Logging Association

'NorthWestern Energy applauds the 'Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act of 2020,' introduced by U.S. Senators Daines and Feinstein. Wildfires in Montana have and can be devastating to people, property, land, and the environment, and that the 'Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act of 2020' is a very important tool in reducing wildfire risks for NorthWestern Energy's Montana customers.' - Heather Grahame, General Counsel and Vice President - Regulatory and Federal Government Affairs, NorthWestern Energy

'Since entering public service, Senator Daines has worked non-stop to protect our natural resources by advocating sound forest management as the solution. The Emergency Wildfire & Public Safety Act is yet another important tool to achieve healthier forests while protecting human life. Reaching across the aisle demonstrates that our Senator Daines is leading on this issue.' - Edward Regan, Resource Manager, RY Timber

'We applaud Senator Daines for working to forge a bipartisan bill to address the pressing need for better management of our National Forests. Montanans have endured job losses from mill closures, and then endured many summers filled with wildfire smoke as our unmanaged forests have gone up in flames. This bill would represent a positive step to address the chronic forest health problems on our National Forests. We believe the bill can be part of the badly needed solution to the forest health and wildfire crisis on our National Forests. We look forward to working with Sen. Daines and others in a good faith effort to find common ground that will achieve the results all Montanans want.' - Chuck Roady, President & General Manager, F.H. Stoltze Land & Lumber and President, Federal Forest Resource Coalition '

'The Montana Telecommunications Association applauds Senator Daines for introducing with Senator Feinstein the bipartisan Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act. As we are learning from the Covid pandemic, broadband is more essential than ever for full participation in today's society. This important legislation, among other things, will make it easier for broadband providers like MTA's members to maintain critical infrastructure on public lands and to be able to use disaster relief and emergency assistance to install fire-resistant infrastructure. MTA appreciates the efforts of Senators Daines and Feinstein to facilitate broadband deployment.' - The Montana Telecommunications Association

'Many thanks to Senator Daines & Feinstein for teaming up to introduce the Emergency Wildfire & Public Safety Act. This legislation will help ensure that our public lands in Montana continue to provide world-class recreational opportunities, protect at-risk communities and their water supplies, plus help to enhance wildlife habitat. I am hopeful that Gov. Bullock, or our next Governor, will have the opportunity to advance implementation of this landmark legislation.' - Rich Lane, Forester & Log Buyer, Willis Enterprises

'The National Wild Turkey Federation thanks Senator Daines and Senator Feinstein for introducing this important bipartisan legislation. Forest health and wildfire prevention are important to all Americans and we need well thought out solutions that everyone can support. This legislation provides those solutions and will result in more efficient and effective forest management where it is needed most. The NWTF looks forward to working with the Senators to enact this legislation into law so we can put it to work on the ground.' - Becky Humphries, CEO, National Wild Turkey Federation.

'Senators Feinstein and Daines are to be commended for their leadership on this bipartisan effort to address perhaps the most pressing environmental issues of our time - unabated threats to communities from catastrophic wildfires and the forest health crisis in our western national forests. Eighty million acres of national forestland are at risk of catastrophic wildfire and 25 percent of the forests in the Intermountain West are at risk of mortality from insects and disease within the next 15 years. This legislation provides tools for the Forest Service to mitigate risks [through active management] from wildfire on public lands before fires start, while also encouraging expedited post-fire restoration of lands impacted by wildland fire. Additionally, this legislation also facilitates the removal of biomass from high risk national forest areas, which will further mitigate wildfire risks and encourage alternate sustainable uses for material that would otherwise burn.' - Tom Schultz, VP Resources, Idaho Forest Group

'Reducing the threat of wildfire to communities and watersheds is a critical issue for our public lands counties. The Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act would help advance necessary forest management projects in a timely and collaborative manner while preventing catastrophic wildfires. We thank Senators Feinstein and Daines for introducing this important legislation to safeguard landscape and watershed health. We hope Congress passes this bill as soon as possible.'- Matthew Chase, Executive Director, National Association of Counties

'With wildfires currently destroying areas in California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, and other locations throughout the United States, we highly welcome the introduction of The Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act of 2020 by Senators Feinstein (CA-D) and Daines (MT-R). As evangelicals Christians, we are commanded to tend and care for God's creation. Unfortunately, we have not been the best stewards in caring for our forests. Rising temperatures and prolonged drought conditions spurred by climate change place new stresses on most of our National Forests and put surrounding communities at increased risk. Poor forest management and other causes further exacerbate these new threats. Reforesting and increase preventive actions in wildfire affected areas restores our national forest system while building resilience for our communities and drawing down heat-trapping carbon emissions all at the same time. The Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act of 2020 provides a start to addressing some of these immediate concerns. We look forward to seeing it move and improved as part of the legislative process.' - The Rev. Mitch Hescox, President and CEO, The Evangelical Environmental Network

'I am excited about implementation of this act. The Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act is about results. Effective forest management requires action, and this bill encourages action through the use of Collaboratives, risk reduction pre-fire mitigation work, and post fire restoration initiatives. This act is about reducing the threat of catastrophic wildfires to our communities.' - Greg Chilcott, Chairman, Montana Coalition of Forest Counties

'EEI thanks Senators Feinstein and Daines for their leadership in introducing this bipartisan wildfire mitigation legislation. This bill will enable more effective industry-government coordination on land management policies, technology development and deployment, hazard mitigation, and workforce training. Electric companies across the country are committed to working with our government partners and other stakeholders on preparation and mitigation efforts that combat the wildfire threat and on the rapid deployment of technology solutions that address wildfire risks, while still maintaining the safe, reliable, and affordable energy we all need.' - Edison Electric Institute

'The Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation applauds the introduction of this bipartisan legislation that would improve forest health and wildlife habitat. Collaboratively developed forest management projects that minimize wildfire risk are a benefit to local communities, including hunters and anglers, and this legislation seeks to do just that.' - Jeff Crane, President, Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation

'We applaud Senator Daines for his work in introducing the bipartisan Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act of 2020. While providing aerial support to combat wildfires is the backbone of Neptune Aviation's business, we strongly support a multi-pronged approach in waging this nearly year-round battle. Increasing active forest management and deploying additional wildfire detection equipment are critical and commonsense measures to protect the communities most at risk from catastrophic wildfires. We encourage Congress to pass this legislation and provide the tools needed to prevent the spread of wildfires across Montana and the West.' - Dan Snyder, Senior Vice President, Neptune Aviation Services

'This month's devastating wildfires have impacted communities across the West, many of which are home to our collective friends, families, and member companies. It is past time to move beyond political posturing and advance real solutions to address the bureaucracy and gridlock contributing to a growing forest health crisis impacting our federal lands. We thank Senators Daines and Feinstein for their bipartisan leadership and support for active forest management tools like logging, thinning and prescribed fire, which are more important than ever to make our overstocked forests more resilient in the face of drought, insect infestations, and a changing climate,' Travis Joseph, President/CEO, American Forest Resource Council, Portland, Oregon

'Foresters and natural resource managers can and will use every tool at their disposal to proactively address fire-prone landscapes. In doing so, they provide fire managers more options to address new fires and maintain their safety. SAF is proud to support this crucial piece of legislation, which also invests in workforce development, accelerates post-fire restoration efforts, and creates new markets for biomass. These measures will help make our forests more resilient, give our wildland firefighters more suppression options, create safer communities, and develop new generations of forest stewards.' - Terry Baker, CEO, Society of American Foresters

Background:

Daines has been a leading voice in the United States Senate working to mitigate the spread of wildfires in Montana, his recent actions include:

On September 9th, 2020, U.S. Senators Steve Daines and Dianne Feinstein announced that their bipartisan forest management reform bill had been given a hearing date in the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for the following week.

On August 20th, 2020, Daines sent a letter to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee calling for a hearing as soon as possible on his bipartisan forest management reform legislation.

On August 17th, 2020, Daines hosted a roundtable discussion with local Montana leaders, conservation groups, leaders in the timber industry, and fire officials on his bipartisan forest management reform bill at Flathead National Forest.

Earlier this summer, Daines introduced his major forest management reform bill after working for over a year on a bipartisan product that would have strong bipartisan consensus.

Daines' work on the this significant bipartisan forestry reform legislation has received strong support from Montana leaders including the Montana Wood Products Association, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Northwestern Energy and Montana Logging Association.