Five Senators sent a bipartisan letter to President Biden urging the administration include a legislative fix to clean up the Cottonwood decision in his 2024 budget.
In 2015, the Ninth Circuit Court issued a decision requiring federal agencies to reinitiate consultation about land management practices and forest management plans in relation to the Endangered Species Act. That ruling blocked or severely slowed many previously approved forest management, wildlife enhancement and wildfire fuel reduction projects.
“The bipartisan Cottonwood fix passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and has the support of the last three presidential administrations,” the senators wrote. “Importantly, numerous conservation and sportsmen organizations alike back the fix, signaling how necessary and comprehensive the Cottonwood fix is. Commonsense forest management practices using the best available science are key to protecting western communities and wildlife alike and must be allowed to continue.”
“Western wildlife advocates have been frustrated as habitat improvement and wildfire prevention projects have been halted by litigation, only to watch those same forests burn from catastrophic wildfires,” RMEF President and CEP Kyle Weaver said in 2022.
As of July 2022, the National Interagency Fire Center reported wildfires burned nearly 5.5 million acres throughout the U.S. in 2022 and 52 million acres since 2016, with more than 65 percent of the wildfires affecting federal lands.
(Photo credit: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)