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Daines reintroduces Root and Stem Act

by KATE HESTON
Daily Inter Lake | February 1, 2023 12:00 AM

U.S. Sen. Steve Daines’ office announced Tuesday that he has reintroduced his Root and Stem Act after it passed the Senate during the last congressional session, but not the House.

This time, the Montana Republican is introducing the bill with legislators from both houses of Congress in the hopes of securing its quick passage.

The Root and Stem Authorization Act will codify the authority of the secretaries of the Agriculture and Interior departments to conduct forest restoration projects alongside private landowners and companies. The legislation aims to facilitate more efficient forest management efforts, supporters say.

“Season after season, Montana is facing devastating wildfires. It’s past time we restore active forest management practices,” Daines said in a Jan. 30 press release announcing reintroduction of the legislation.

Daines originally introduced the act with U.S. Sen. Dianne Fienstein, a Democrat from California. The pair teamed up with two House members — Washington Republican Dan Newhouse and California Democrat Scott Peters — to reintroduce the bipartisan legislation in the current session.

According to Daines’ office, the proposal has undergone a few minor tweaks and changes, but largely stayed the same.

“Collaboration between the federal government and Montanans is key when it comes to common sense forest management,” Daines said in a statement. “We should be encouraging public-private partnerships that will find creative and effective solutions to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires, promote healthy forests and protect local communities.”

Montana-based companies and industry groups have previously expressed support for the legislation, including the Montana Woods Products Association, Montana Logging Association and Stimson Lumber Company.

“This act allows counties and other individuals to enter into an agreement that is based on a collaborative effort,” said Julia Altemus of the Montana Woods Products Association.

While companies and state agencies have worked with federal officials before on forest management projects, there is currently no requirement that federal agencies cooperate with their state level counterparts. The Root and Stem Act codifies these types of collaborations.

Reporter Kate Heston can be reached at 758-4459 or kheston@dailyinterlake.com.