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Rounds Leads Legislation to Increase Timber Sales in the Black Hills National Forest

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) today introduced the Timber Harvesting Restoration Act, legislation that would require the United States Forest Service (USFS) to improve timber sales numbers in the Black Hills National Forest.

In recent years, timber sales in the Black Hills National Forest have steadily decreased. This has put a significant strain on manufacturers of timber products that rely on these sales. These businesses then have to bring in timber harvested further away, paying additional shipping costs. In addition, USFS has been unable to justify the harvesting shortfalls in the Black Hills National Forest.

“A well-managed forest is a healthy forest,” said Rounds. “The reduction in timber production in the Black Hills not only harms our businesses, but our forest as well. I’m pleased to be introducing this legislation that takes steps toward getting our timber production back up to normal levels.”

“We appreciate this legislation from Senator Rounds which would help the US Forest Service succeed and the communities depending on that success," said Ben Wudtke, Executive Director of the Black Hills Forest Resource Association. "The US Forest Service has recognized a tremendous need for treating an additional 20 million acres through their Wildfire Crisis Strategy.  Recognizing the need is the first step.  This legislation is a logical next step that would help better position individual national forests for accomplishing those goals through development of tailored plans where needed.”

Specifically, the Timber Harvesting Restoration Act would:

  • Require superintendents of National Forest System (NFS) units (individual national forests) to submit harvesting improvement reports to the Secretary if they have historically fallen well below annual Allowable Sale Quantity (ASQ) numbers laid out in forest plans.
  • Require superintendent reports to identify any of the following actions: 1) forest areas that could be used to help meet harvesting targets 2) any actionable steps that may help meet harvesting targets, including expediting environmental review processes and increasing the use of Good Neighbor Authority when applicable.
  • Require superintendents to consult with private industry, advisory committees, local, tribal and state governments and relevant stakeholder groups when drafting improvement reports.
  • Require superintendents to submit improvement reports to the Secretary within 180 days of enactment of the Act.
  • Require superintendents to demonstrate actionable steps towards improving timber sale numbers within one year of enactment. If a forest supervisor does not increase timber sales from the preceding year, they will be required to submit another improvement report within 180 days after the actionable step deadline.
  • Direct the Secretary to allocate any available resources to an individual NFS if a superintendent does not demonstrate harvesting improvements one year after submitting a harvesting improvement report. This may include providing additional personnel, expanding the use of Good Neighbor Authority and finding any feasible actions to expedite environmental review processes.

Click HERE for full bill text.