Senator Steve Daines today pressed the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to find solutions to increase timber harvests and called on them to work with local leaders to achieve increased harvests.During today’s Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on improving forest health, Daines pressed USDA Under Secretary Robert Bonnie on solutions to increase timber harvests after U.S. Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell acknowledged to Daines last week that a goal of nearly tripling harvests in Montana’s National Forests is “very reasonable.” The Forest Service is part of the USDA.

“We need to find a path forward to create economic opportunities in our forested counties and the status quo is not acceptable,” Daines stated. “The Forest Service needs to come to the table and work with local leaders on the ground to fix our National Forest system. I will continue pressing the Forest Service and the Obama administration until they embrace solutions that will increase forest jobs and improve forest health in all 10 of Montana’s National Forests.”

Daines recently held forest management reform roundtables in several Western Montana communities where he heard firsthand how the shuttering and decreased operations of sawmills were damaging to Montana’s families, small businesses and economy.