Tester Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Put Montanans Back in Charge of Forest Management

Senator’s Legislation Will Reauthorize and Expand the Successful Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program

(U.S. Senate)-U.S. Senator Jon Tester has teamed up with Republicans and Democrats to put Montanans back in charge of forest management projects.

Tester’s bipartisan bill will reauthorize and expand the successful Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program, which helps fund collaborative forest management projects like road and trail maintenance, tree thinning, and culvert restoration. The Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program has a proven track record in Montana of improving forest health and creating jobs through forest projects like the Southwest Montana Crown of the Continent collaborative.

“Montana’s Crown of the Continent is home to one of the most successful collaboratives in the nation,” Tester said. “This bill will ensure conservation and timber projects, like the Crown, can continue to create jobs and protect landscapes for future generations. Reauthorizing the Restoration Program will strengthen our outdoor economy and build healthier forests across the nation.”

Tester’s bill will extend the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program through 2029 and double the amount of funding it is eligible to receive from $40 million to $80 million annually.

Since it was enacted in 2009, the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program has helped to create locally driven, diverse coalitions that work together to identify solutions to better manage local forests, reduce fire risks, and support local economies.

There are currently over a dozen active Montana collaboratives including the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Project, which helped Tester author his landmark bill to identify new areas for timber harvests, expand trail recreation, and designate nearly 80,000 acres to protect Montana’s wildlife for future generations.

The Southwest Montana Crown of the Continent collaborative to date has retained and created more than 100 timber jobs in the Seeley Lake Valley, brought in nearly $20 million in federal investments, and generated more than $33 million for the local economy.

Montana collaboratives are an active part of Montana’s growing outdoor economy, which directly supports 70,000 jobs and generates $7 billion annually.

Tester’s bipartisan bill is cosponsored by Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Jeff Merkley (D- Ore.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Tom Udall (D-N.M.).