Reauthorization for the Land and Water Conservation Fund made it into the pending omnibus spending bill, but the ‘fire-borrowing’ fix for funding large wildfires did not. The wildfire measure was tied to a set of logging measures that raised opposition on both sides of the aisle . . .
Proposals to speed up logging projects apparently killed chances for fixing the U.S. Forest Service’s “fire borrowing” problem as Congress moved an omnibus budget bill toward passage Wednesday.
The 2,009-page bill does include re-authorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which was a bipartisan goal of Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines, Republican Rep. Ryan Zinke and Democratic Sen. Jon Tester. But the Montana delegation’s push for categorical exemptions and expedited approvals of logging projects ran into opposition from both national environmental groups and Senate Republican leadership.
Both Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and ranking member Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., opposed including the Forest Wildfire Funding and Forest Management amendment that was backed by a large coalition of logging, recreation and conservation groups as well as members of Congress from both parties and the Agriculture Department.