Interior and Environment Appropriations FY 2018

The Interior Appropriations bill is arguably the most important piece of legislation for the western United States. I am pleased this bill addresses the federal government’s responsibility to public lands counties by funding PILT. This is how many counties pay for essential services such as roads and schools. Until we find a much needed long term solution to PILT, I will continue to ensure these payments are fully funded and arrive on time.

The Interior bill also includes a number of priorities that benefit Idaho:

  • Full funding for wildfire suppression at the ten-year average of $3.4 billion for the Department of Interior and the Forest Service;
  • Increased funding for hazardous fuels management which is vital to preventing catastrophic wildfires;
  • Language making litigation costs more transparent and extending requirements that litigants exhaust administrative review before litigating grazing issues in Federal court;
  • Language that prohibits a ban on issuing new closures of public lands to hunting and recreational shooting, except in the case of public safety;
  • Language that directs the Bureau of Land Management to work with the State of Idaho regarding aquifer recharge;
  •  Language that expresses concern with the Cottonwood Environmental Law Center v. U.S. Forest Service court decision and encourages the Administration to work with Congress to find a solution. Congressman Simpson introduced legislation to reverse the court decision which has threatened 80 vegetative management projects and hundreds of millions of board feet.