Gianforte pushes for forest management on tour stop

Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte took his “Forest Jobs Tour” to Columbia Falls Friday, touring F.H. Stoltze Land & Lumber Company and calling for changes in forest policy.

Speaking with reporters and employees at the firm’s 94-year-old mill, Gianforte stressed the need for some logging and thinning, or “forest management,” to tame future wildfires and boost Montana’s economy.

“When we do forest management, we have more habitat, there’s more wildlife, there’s more hunting opportunities, we have more jobs in our mills, and fires are less intense and don’t spread as far,” he told the Daily Inter Lake.

To this end, Gianforte has co-sponsored the Resilient Federal Forests Act, introduced by Arkansas Congressman Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., in June. Among other provisions, the bill aims to expedite the approval process for salvaging wood from burned areas, allow the president to declare major fires a natural disaster and free up emergency funds, and streamline the forest-management permitting process to curb litigation.