There are currently 21 court injunctions against forest restoration projects in Montana.

One is near West Yellowstone, where Ed Regan of RY Timber out of Livingston had brought his equipment to begin logging, when the next day an injunction stopped the work, but not before someone had vandalized a half-million dollar feller buncher.

“Somebody had got into our feller buncher, which is about a half a million dollar piece of machinery, broke into it and cut all the wires in the harness, and they knew what they were doing because we were not able to put it back together in the field without having to call to come all the way from Missoula down to West Yellowstone,” said Regan. “We lost about a week’s worth of work on about a $1,500 a day machine, plus the mechanic and the truck that was going to pick him up and he had to go home empty handed, so it’s going to be about a $10,000 hit to the logger, plus the downtime he’s had to move to another job.”

Regan has had lots of experience with lawsuits by various groups delaying and cancelling forest restoration projects that had already been approved by the U.S. Forest Service.

“We would like to see litigation reform at the federal level to where the frivolous lawsuits would become a thing of the past, and only good, substantive lawsuits would be able to go forward in the courts.”

Senator Steve Daines has introduced legislation that will allow for disputes to be resolved through arbitration rather than the courtroom. On Wednesday,the Senate Energy and Natural Resources' Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining will examine Daines’ bill at a legislative hearing in Washington, D.C.