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Helps advance legislation that would allow the Forest Service to resolve disputes over certain forest management projects through arbitration rather than in the courtroom

Washington, D.C. – During a bipartisan exchange at today’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee markup, U.S. Senator Risch (R-ID) passionately defended Idaho’s ability to manage forest lands through a collaborative process instead of litigation. Risch has cosponsored legislation led by Senator Daines that would help meet that goal, the Protect Collaboration for Healthier Forests Act. This legislation would develop a pilot program for the Forest Service to resolve disputes over certain forest management projects through arbitration rather than in the courtroom. The pilot would be carried out in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming for five years and give eligibility for up to two projects a year. In his remarks, Risch used the distinctive Idaho Roadless Rule to underscore the value and importance of the collaborative process. The Protect Collaboration for Healthier Forests Act was amended and passed the Committee. Watch the full exchange below. 

Partial transcript of Risch’s comments:

"We have a half-century worth of history of fighting in litigation the management of public lands, particularly in the timber industry and the national forests and the BLM. This started 50 years ago as an antagonistic, combative system with people drawing lines on both sides and nobody giving quarter. Over that period of time, cooler minds have prevailed and we have gotten to a point where, for instance in Idaho, which is true in Montana and Wyoming, we manage a lot of the forest lands by a collaborative process, and a collaborative process is a process by which the parties sit around the table - and it is parties across the spectrum, from industry people, harvesting, motorized users, or conservation groups that want to protect certain areas - and we have had a really good success in this collaborative process. I mean really good success. It has eliminated a lot of litigation and it has been a give and take and the parties come away from the table with a lot better feeling and a result. … 

“This is really de minimis. We are talking about two projects out of thousands every year. This is not intended to be a run at environmentalists or anything like that. It is designed to do what most industries and most people in America are moving towards, which is arbitration as opposed to litigation. Because the litigation goes on for years and years and years and you have various steps through the appellate process. … What we are trying to do in a very, very limited fashion is get these matters resolved after they have been through a system that has the deepest due process you have ever seen with these people around at the table.”

Click here to learn more about the bill.