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Continues Push for Common Sense Forest Management 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) called on the Biden administration to include the full and permanent Cottonwood fix in the President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2024. The Senators’ efforts are a continuation of years of efforts advocating for common sense forest management.

“We write today to request your support in the Fiscal Year 2024 President’s Budget for a clean legislative fix to reverse the 2015 Cottonwood Environmental Law Center v. U.S. Forest Service (Cottonwood)  decision. An immediate resolution to this decision is vital to allow land managers and wildlife biologists to follow the best available science to improve the health of our forests, reduce the risk of severe wildfires, advance wildlife habitat projects, and support good paying timber jobs. 

“The bipartisan Cottonwood fix passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and has the support of the last three Presidential administrations. Importantly, numerous conservation and sportsmen organizations alike back the fix, signaling how necessary and comprehensive the Cottonwood fix is. Commonsense forest management practices using the best available science are key to protecting western communities and wildlife alike and must be allowed to continue,” the senators wrote.

The full letter is available HERE.

In 2015, the Ninth Circuit Court ruled in Cottonwood Environmental Law Center v. United States Forest Service (Cottonwood) that the U.S. Forest Service needed to reinitiate consultation with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the programmatic level following the 2009 designation of critical habitat for the Canada lynx. As a result, courts halted projects during the consultation process throughout the 18 national forests inhabited by lynx.

Senator Risch has been working to reverse the disastrous Cottonwood decision for years. His efforts include:

  • In 2022, legislation to reverse the Cottonwood decision by increasing active forest management passed out of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Senator Risch, with Senator Daines, introduced this legislation;
  • In 2022, Risch, Crapo, and Daines wrote the Biden administration encouraging it to resolve challenges stemming from the Cottonwood decision and threatening forest management projects;
  • In 2021, Risch and Congressman Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) wrote the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and the National Marine Fisheries Service in support of a proposed rule to reduce roadblocks created by the Cottonwood decision and help spur responsible forest management and conservation projects on federal lands;
  • In 2020, Risch, Crapo, and Daines introduced legislation to provide a legislative fix to the misguided Cottonwood decision and ensure continued responsible forest management on federal lands;
  • In 2020, Risch and Crapo introduced legislation to remove a roadblock to responsible forest management efforts on federal lands, which would deliver relief to communities adversely impacted by the misguided Cottonwood decision.

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