HELENA, Mont. – Governor Steve Bullock today released the following statement on the anniversary of the 2014 Farm Bill being signed into law.
“The Farm Bill helped create Montana’s Forests in Focus Initiative, which brings Montanans together to protect our public lands, create healthier forests, and build a stronger economy. Because of the Farm Bill, we have invested in forest restoration projects to improve wildlife habitats, reduce the threat of fire danger, and protect jobs in the woods on our national forests. There is more work to be done to support and restore our national forests and I look forward to building on the successes that the Farm Bill provided Montana through the Forests in Focus initiative.”
Bullock designated almost 5 million acres of national forests as Priority Landscapes under the Farm Bill; that designation allows for streamlined analysis of projects to increase the pace of planned federal forest management activities. In July of 2014, Governor Bullock announced $3.5 million in funding for investment in federal forest management projects on national forest lands, cost-share forest restoration projects on tribal and private forested lands, and increased local fire suppression capability. As a result:
- $1 million has been invested in projects on National Forest lands, to promote collaboration and jobs in the woods, as well as improved wildlife habitat and reduced fire danger. These projects are anticipated to result in on the ground benefits for recreation, wildlife, watershed and forest health, reduced fire danger, and more than 50 million board feet of timber to local mills.
- $2 million was allocated to cost-share forest restoration projects on non-federal forested lands, addressing forest health and producing more than 5 million board feet of timber.
- $500,000 supported increased fire suppression capability for local rural fire departments.
In October of 2015, and to further the objectives of Forests in Focus, Governor Bullock announced an additional $3 million in funding:
- $2 million to be available for cost-share on additional non-federal forest restoration projects.
- $1 million to invest in projects which leverage additional federal investments on National Forest Lands.
- As well as the possibility of another $1.5 million “at the ready” pending developments with the softwood lumber market.
Additional information on the Governor’s Forest in Focus Initiative can be found here.