Amendment to Attack the Pine Beetle Epidemic Clears U.S. Senate

Posted: July 6, 2012

Source: Senator Baucus

(Washington, D.C.) – Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus secured a victory today for Montana forests as the U.S. Senate voted 77 to 22 in favor of his amendment to better address the bark beetle infestation. The plan is one of many Farm Bill amendments the Senate is voting on thisweek.

“The Farm Bill has long been an important vehicle for supporting Montana timber jobs.  The provisions I’ve worked to include in the bill will help us sustainably harvest more trees in Western Montana while propping up our loggers and small timber mills facing one of the worst bark beetle kills in the nation,” said Baucus who played a key role in crafting the Farm Bill as a senior member of the Agriculture Committee.

The Farm Bill currently authorizes the U.S. Forest Service to use $100 million to address the bark beetle infestation, which Baucus’ amendment would double. It would also help the Forest Service address the bark beetle epidemic by authorizing streamlined procedures that promote efficient and responsible action on the ground.  This combination makes it clear that both efficient authorities and adequate resources are crucial for this effort. The funding is authorized to the Forest Service to spend in states where the Governor requests it.  The goal of the plan is to save money over the long haul through sustainable harvests versus incurring massive costs related to wildlands firefighting.

  • Western states are experiencing the largest bark beetle outbreak in recorded history, having lost more than 41.7 million acres of trees.
  • Montana’s total loss of 6.2 million acres is the second-highest in the country, exceeded only by Colorado’s 6.6 million acres.
  • On average bark beetles kill as many trees annually as all wildfires across the U.S.
  • This widespread forest mortality has many significant impacts, including to municipal water supplies, tourism economies, wildfire risk, and human health and safety.