House approves forest management bill with some bipartisan support

Supporters of the bill see it as a way to reduce damaging wildfires, and create new economic opportunity through increased timber harvesting. The legislation requires timber production on at least half of federal forestlands, which supporters said would help reduce fuel on the forest floor that can exacerbate wildfires.

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In late Thursday debate on the bill, members said increased timber harvests could create more than 200,000 jobs.

Democrats indicated support for the bipartisan process used to move the bill forward, but said they would still seek further changes to the bill in the Senate and in a possible House-Senate conference.

House passage sends the bill to the upper chamber, but it's unclear whether or when the Senate might consider it. Next week, both the House and Senate are expected to be consumed with consideration of the short-term spending bill.

Before final passage today, the House considered three last amendments to the bill, from:

— Rep. Steven Daines (R-Mont.), protecting forest reserve projects from frivolous litigation by prohibiting court-ordered injunctions based on alleged violations of procedural requirements in selecting, planning or analyzing forest projects. Passed, 219-196.

— Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), waiving judicial review to prevent frivolous litigation on timber salvage projects resulting from a 2013 wildfire. Passed, 243-172.

— McClintock, prohibiting the U.S. Forest Service from removing roads or trails without a specific decision to do so. Passed, 249-166. 

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