Kirk Maag: Where Does Timberlands Regulation Stand Under the Trump Administration?


Environmental and natural resources attorney Kirk Maag authored an article for Western Forester titled “Timberlands Regulation Under the @realDonaldTrump Administration.” In the article, Maag discusses the status of legislative and regulatory efforts under the Trump administration with regard to natural resources and use of federal lands.

Maag points out that President Trump ran on a legislative agenda that didn’t include significant natural resource policy priorities but notes one opportunity for bipartisan action that exists in the area of federal funding for wildland firefighting. Under current law, when the U.S. Forest Service exceeds its firefighting budget, it must borrow from other areas of its budget, but western legislators widely support “the creation and funding of a disaster account that could be used to pay firefighting costs that exceed a baseline average based on firefighting expenses in previous years.”

In the regulatory area, Maag notes that the administration’s focus with respect to Obama-era policies and regulations that affect natural resource industries has often been to roll them back. Two rollback efforts with a connection to timberlands are:

  • The release of a proposed rule to rescind a 2015 Obama administration rule that modified the definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.
  • The identification of several national monuments to be reduced in size, including the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Oregon.

Maag concludes: “[I]t was clear in 2017 that timberlands issues did not make it to the top of the list. Instead, it seems the focus of timberland ‘regulation’ is shifting from DC to federal courts and to the states. This creates the potential for greater state-by-state or regional differences in environmental regulation and enforcement.”

Read “Timberlands Regulation Under the @realDonaldTrump Administration,” published in the November/December 2017 edition of Western Forester.

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