The Litigation Quagmire

The Litigation Quagmire

Forest managers face a daunting restoration backlog that fuels the wildfire crisis.

“It seems to me that Montana is a great splash of grandeur. The scale is huge but not overpowering. The land is rich with grass and color, and the mountains are the kind I would create if mountains were ever put on my agenda.” – John Steinbeck

As Montanans we widely acknowledge the importance of our forests to our communities, to our way of life and to the ecosystem they are a part of. Yet every year smoke blocks out the sky for months at a time as catastrophic forest fires rip across the forests we hold dear, and right on cue public officials, community leaders and citizens call for changes to address this problem, yet little seems to change. 

But there is a major reason for the standstill in implementing forest management plans: litigation. In this month’s featured article, PERC Policy Director Hannah Downey addresses how “tanglesome” litigation can encourage conflict rather than collaboration:

“While litigation plays an important role in holding the government accountable to the people, research from PERC’s report Fix America’s Forests found it can also be disruptive and warp incentives in the forest management context. It can elevate relatively minor scientific or policy disagreements over broader considerations of forest health and the public interest.”

“Meaningful reforms could uphold the public oversight and benefits of environmental litigation while also providing greater transparency and predictability to those participating in forest restoration”

“Forest managers face a daunting restoration backlog that fuels the wildfire crisis. Money alone will not solve the problem if lawsuits continue to hold up on-the-ground projects. Reforming litigation will improve the ability to effectively put resources to work in our forests.”

Be sure to check her entire article, where she explains how Montana leaders are working to alleviate litigation delays.

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