House Approves Daine's Bill To Boost Timber Industry - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

House Approves Daine's Bill To Boost Timber Industry

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MISSOULA -

The U.S. House of Representatives is giving the "thumbs up" to congressman Steve Daines' bill, which would increase logging in national forests, but opponents say this could destroy Montana forests.

It was a victory for Daine's on Friday, after his bill, the Restoring Healthy Forests for Healthy Community Act was approved by the House.

"H.R.1526 will help revitalize the timber industry in Montana, and create thousands of good high paying jobs," Daine's said.

The law mandates logging on 50% of the U.S. Forest Service's available timberland and creates barriers to legal challenges of timber sales adding, supporters say, hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from additional timber sales.

"It also tackles beetle kill, protecting environment for future generations, and reducing the threat of catastrophic wildfires in Montana," Daines said.

Opponents argue it does the exact opposite, hurts Montana's forests.

"Really what's at stake here is Montana's public land legacy," said Matthew Koehler, the executive director of the WildWest Institute.

The WildWest Institute works to protect and restore forests and wildlife in the Northern Rockies.

Koehler said it would harm water quality and habitat for fish and wildlife, and would jeopardize recreation areas in national forests.

"It would essentially gut the endangered species act, gut public participation, and prevent any lawsuits on logging projects that take place on public lands, which I think all Americans cherish," Koehler said.

Daines added two amendments to the bill this week. One would require the Forest Service to provide an annual one-page statement of revenues from timber sales to track harvest progress. The other would stop courts from issuing temporary orders on timber projects while they're being challenged in court.

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration, where it is expected to die. If it passes through Congress the Obama Administration has threatened to veto the bill.

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