Tester Joins Bill to Permanently Fix Cottonwood Decision

Senator’s legislation to improve certainty, science-based resource management

As a part of his longtime effort to find a permanent fix to the 2015 Cottonwood Environmental Law Center v. U.S. Forest Service (Cottonwood) decision, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today joined legislation to cut bureaucratic red tape and improve science-based resource management in Montana’s forests.

“Healthy forests and wildlife habitats are critical to supporting thousands of good paying Montana jobs, and the red tape created within the Forest Service has impacted its ability to manage our public lands with best available science,” said Tester. “After taking feedback from Montanans, it’s clear that we need a permanent fix to the Cottonwood decision that will reduce time-consuming bureaucratic paperwork, work for wildlife, and protect Montana’s robust resource economy. I’ll stand up to anyone in Washington that doesn’t understand our public lands, and I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get this bill signed into law.”

Tester’s bipartisan bill would amend the Forest Planning and Land Management Acts to clarify that land management plans do not need to be revised when a new species is listed or new critical habitat is designated. This bill maintains strong protections under theEndangered Species Act by ensuring that consultation remains in place for individual projects on federally-managed public land.

Tester’s bill is supported by the Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, the Montana Wood Products Association, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. It was also requested by the Forest Service through three Administrations.

Tester has been a longtime proponent for permanently fixing the Cottonwood Decision, and first introduced bipartisan legislation to do so in 2016. Most recently Tester joined legislation to fix the decision in 2022.


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