Other Proposed Changes to Forest Provisions
Increase and expand monitoring requirements
- The Issue: Currently the bill calls for a report to Congress on how the bill is being implemented no later than 5 years after enactment and every 5 years after that. This leaves a great deal of time before the first report details how the legislation is performing in terms of timber management, fire risk reduction and restoration. The monitoring is also focused on implementation, not scientific results of that implementation.
- The Change: Sen. Tester proposes requiring a progress report every three years to make sure the bill's implementation is on track. The report will include scientific monitoring -- addressing whether the ecological goals of the bill are being met. Sen. Tester will also propose having this review done by an advisory committee -- not the Secretary of Agriculture -- to provide an independent report.
- Where the idea came from: University of Montana School of Forestry, Montana Wood Products Association, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, Trout Unlimited, Sierra Club, Wildlands CPR, and other conservation groups.
Extend stewardship contracting
- The Issue: Currently the authority for stewardship contracting will end in 2013, before the rest of the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act ends.
- The Change: Sen. Tester will propose to extend stewardship contracting authority for the life of this legislation.
- Where the idea came from: Forest Service, and Society of American Foresters.
Prioritize Wildland Urban Interface
- The Issue: Currently Wildland Urban Interface land is not listed as a priority for stewardship contracting areas and restoration. There are hundreds of thousands of acres of wildland urban interface in the three areas included in the bill.
- The Change: Sen. Tester proposes Wildland Urban Interface land be added as a priority to consider when selecting areas for the stewardship contracts.
- Where the idea came from: Individual Montanans.
Strengthen pilot language
- The Issue: The Forest Jobs and Recreation Act is seen by some as having a broad implication on the rest of the National Forest system. To emphasize this is a Montana attempt to help solve problems on Forest Service lands nationally, Sen. Tester will emphasize this effort as a pilot project, from which the lessons can be taken and used in other locations.
- The Change: Sen. Tester proposes including pilot language in the findings section.
- Where the idea came from: Sen. Tester proposed this idea in response to suggestions he heard from some Montanans about setting national precedent.
Fast track restoration work
- The Issue: Some people interpret the restoration mandate to be less certain than the timber treatment mandate. They fear that because of low markets and previous unfulfilled promises about restoration accomplishments, the restoration (removal of roads, noxious weed removal, replacing of culverts, etc.) will not be completed in a timely manner.
- The Change: Sen. Tester will propose time limits for when the restoration must be completed.
- Where the idea came from: Sen. Tester proposed this idea in response to concerns from Friends of the Bitterroot, Sierra Club, Wildlands CPR and individual Montanans.
Expand stewardship lands on the Three Rivers District of the Kootenai National Forest
- The Issue: Currently the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act uses the Kootenai National Forest's plan to determine where the stewardship projects can occur on the Three Rivers District. Some are concerned the Forest Service will not be able to treat 3,000 acres per year without impacting grizzly bear habitat.
- The Change: Senator Tester will propose expanding the stewardship project area into adjacent districts.
- Where the idea came from: Senator Tester proposed the idea after hearing concerns from The Lands Council and residents of Lincoln County.
Give preference to local contractors
- The Issue: One of the main purposes of this bill is to maintain and develop good-paying jobs in Montana's rural communities. With this intent, Sen. Tester wants to assure that the bill encourages development of local businesses and that contracts are awarded with consideration of the full range of economic impacts.
- The Change: Sen. Tester will propose adding language to the bill that calls for "Best Value Contracting." Under best value, contracts must be awarded on the basis of achieving best value to the government. A variety of criteria, including weighted local preference, would be used in making the award determination.
- Where the idea came from: Wayne Hirst, Montana AFL-CIO, and Mick Wonnacott of the Laborers Union.
Ensure that stewardship contracting receipts don't go to other forests
- The Issue: A typographical error in the bill opens up the possibility for receipts from stewardship contracting to go to other forests.
- The Change: Senator Tester will change the word "a" to "the" to ensure receipts from stewardship contracting in the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest stay on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest.
- Where the idea came from: County Commissioners.