Governor Steve Bullock today unveiled a new forestry stewardship partnership to address pressing needs in forest management across ownership boundaries. Governor Bullock, along with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, and key supporting partners including Idaho Forest Group, The Nature Conservancy, and the Forest Service introduced a strategy document titled Forests in Focus 2.0: A Cross-Boundary Collaborative Approach.
“Montana is uniquely positioned to continue to lead on addressing forest and rangeland management needs by expanding upon our proven strategies for results,” said Governor Bullock. “This new partnership will emphasize better planning, scaling partnerships down to the local level, and targeting our investments on state, federal, tribal and private lands that bring capacity where we most need it, benefitting Montana’s forested communities across the state.”
Industry, conservation, and business partners have committed $600,000 in investments for the next three years to help launch supporting efforts under the Good Neighbor Authority.
“The work needed on Montana’s National Forests is daunting and will take an ‘all hands’ effort. Idaho Forest Group is proud to partner with other local forest products companies and the state to stand up the Good Neighbor program in Montana and lead the way in restoring Montana’s forests,” said Tom Schultz, VP Government Affairs of Idaho Forest Group.
"The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation wholeheartedly supports the use of the federal Good Neighbor Authority (GNA) to expand and expedite forest management across priority forests and watersheds in Montana," said Blake Henning, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s Chief Conservation Officer. “One of the primary attributes of the Good Neighbor Authority is that it allows for forest project planning and management across all landownerships. RMEF looks forward to being an active partner in Governor Bullock's Forest's in Focus Initiative 2.0 and supporting enhanced forest management activities across Montana.”
“Pyramid Mountain Lumber, Inc. appreciates the opportunity to partner with Montana DNRC to increase the pace and scale of stewardship and restoration activities on National Forest System lands through GNA. We consider our investment an investment in the future of forest health and resilience of our forested landscapes and rural communities across Montana,” said Gordy Sanders, Pyramid Mountain Lumber, Inc.
“The work we have accomplished with the state of Montana through the Forests in Focus initiative and good neighbor authority is a wonderful example of how we continue to enhance opportunities to work together for the benefit of the resources, communities and Montanans,” said Regional Forester Leanne Marten. “This cross-boundary, collaborative approach will further our ability set priorities and continue with our shared stewardship of broad landscapes.”
This new partnership builds from the momentum of the original Forests in Focus Initiative launched by Governor Bullock in 2014. Over the past four years, Forests in Focus has treated 10,000 acres and produced 22 million board feet of timber on state and private lands. On federal lands, the initiative invested in 25 USFS projects that have produced 165 million board feet of timber, treated 300,000 acres, and generated 60 million dollars in state and federal taxes. These activities have sustained over 3,000 jobs.
Forests in Focus 2.0: A Cross-Boundary Collaborative Approach key focuses include:
- Convening key stakeholders to help revise the State Forest Action Plan to reassess statewide forest conditions, identify priority areas for treatment, and accomplish landscape-scale forest restoration in targeted areas over a defined period of time.
- Launching a Good Neighbor Authority (GNA) Program to increase the pace and scale of forest restoration and management on federal lands and across ownership boundaries.
- Investing in innovative targeted marketing strategies to increase stewardship activities on non-industrial private forest lands.
- Expanding investment in local government capacity to make communities more resilient to wildfire, realize the goals and objectives of Community Wildfire Protection Plans, and engage forest land managers in relevant planning and project efforts.
- Better serving Indian Country by engaging with all 12 Montana tribes to identify programs of work that address forest health and wildfire risk issues in and around tribal communities.
- Investing in an industry liaison position to better align DNRC’s capabilities to overcome challenges with forest industry stability, growth, and retention.
- Investing annually in watershed and collaborative groups in recognition of their leadership in resolving intractable land management policy and projects.
Governor Bullock also led an initiative of the Western Governors Association to advance shared learning and policy solutions to address forest and rangeland management needs. Many of the Governors’ recommendations were adopted in Congress’ recent omnibus appropriations bill.
Governor Bullock will attend the National Association of State Foresters President’s Reception in Whitefish, Montana on Tuesday, September 25, where he will welcome the nation’s leaders in forestry and share remarks about the new strategy.
Read the full Forests in Focus 2.0: A Cross-Boundary Collaborative Approach at this link.