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Legislative Update for Montana – 2007

As non-industrial and industrial landowners there are several bills and resolutions working their way through the State Legislature that may be of particular interest to you. Joint Resolution HJ0008.01 and Senate Bill SB 293.01 are outlined here.

Montana joint resolution (HJ0008.01) encourages the USDA Forest Service to require the plaintiff to post a bond in order to challenge timber sales. The basis of this resolution is the significant role that the timber industry plays in the state, employing more then 11,000 people and the role that the timber industry has played in the development of the Montana’s communities. Montana has seen a decrease in the timber harvest over the past 20 years by more then 70%, which has affected the economy and infrastructure of the state.

The resolution recognizes while there is public involvement mandated for the timber sale process on Federal ground, some individuals and groups file appeals without merit with the sole intent of delaying the timber sale indefinitely.

Recently, a District Court Judge in Montana required environmental groups to post a bond to cover the costs of delaying a timber sale. This bond requirement is similar to the bond that must be posted in Montana for appealing any timber sales on State lands.

This resolution states “Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the State of Montana:

  1. That the Forest Service be strongly urged to require that a bond be posted whenever there is a legal challenge to a timber sale.
  2. That copies of this resolution be sent to the Secretary of State to the Montana, Congressional Delegation, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, and the chief of the U.S. Forest Service.”

Senate Bill SB293.01 is entitled “An act creating the Montana sustainable Forest Use Act; establishing a State policy for management of forest lands; requiring the Department of Natural Resource and Conservation to support restoration and sustainable forest management practices; requiring promotion of forest management activities within and adjacent to the wildland urban interface; and granting authority to intervene in litigation or appeals of federal forest management projects.” The short title of the bill is “Montana Sustainable Forests Use Act”.

The legislature found that the sustainable management of all forests in Montana is vital for conserving the state’s natural resources, economic value and ecological potential for the benefit of all Montanans. And, forests in Montana should be managed to maintain biodiversity, productivity, regeneration capacity, vitality and potential to fulfill relevant ecological, economic and social functions. The legislature declared that the policy of the state is to promote the sustainable use of all forest within the state through sound management and collaboration with state, federal and private entities.

For more information concerning the bills please visit your State Legislative web sites at Montanahttp://leg.mt.gov/css/.
Look for a Washington Legislative update in a future issue of this newsletter. The Washington State Legislative web site is Washington http://www.leg.wa.gov/legislature/.

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