By Rob Chaney
Missoula, MT (June 7, 2012)- U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., added several measures to help the state’s forestry industry to the 2012 farm bill on Thursday.
They include a measure providing $100 million to the U.S. Forest Service for combating bark beetle outbreaks and permanent reauthorization of the stewardship contracting system that permits logs-for-restoration work like the Southwest Crown of the Continent project.
“This permanent authority is critical for reducing wildfire risk and maintaining resilient landscapes and communities throughout our country,” Baucus said in a floor speech to the Senate on Thursday. “As I advocated prior to markup, these returns are well worth the small investment. It can keep companies like F.H. Stoltze, which is celebrating 100 years in operation in Columbia Falls, Montana, in business for another hundred years.”
Baucus’ amendments also provide $350 million a year for cooperative forestry programs including the Forest Legacy Program, Forest Stewardship Program, Community Forestry and Open Space program, and Community Forest Assistance. It would also allow Indian tribes to participate in the federal Healthy Forests Reserve Program that underwrites forestry easements on private land.
The Senate started formal work on the farm bill on Thursday. It’s expected to need the next three weeks to get all proposed amendments debated.