Montana Senator Steve Daines was in Missoula Saturday morning to speak to a gathering of the Montana Loggers Association at the Holiday Inn, downtown. 

During his one term as a Montana Congressman and now as the state's junior Senator, Daines has been meeting with representatives of the logging and timber industries on a regular basis. On Saturday, Daines told KGVO News that the federal government continues its dismal performance in managing forest lands in the west.

"The federal government is doing a terrible job of managing our national forests," Daines began. "That will be the most important topic I'll be covering today, the need for reform. I was out at St. Regis recently, at Tri-Con Timber and they're bringing logs in from over 600 miles away, and you're sitting there at a meeting at the mill surrounded by thousands of acres of good timber, and we can't even harvest it."

Daines said the one point that anti-logging and anti-development groups forget is that trees will grow back.

"It's a renewable resource," he said. "And, we see them dying from beetle-kill. In addition, we have these extreme environmental groups who are filing lawsuits preventing us from timber harvests, and who,loses when that happens? First, the taxpayer loses, because we're actually funding those groups in their lawsuits. Number two, we're losing jobs and the taxes that are generated for our communities and schools, and number three, the environmental damage when smoke fills the air when these forests burn in the summer."

Daines did offer some hope in breaking through the morass of federal bureaucracy that controls federal forests.

"We have a bill that has moved through the House and we're working to get a companion bill through the Senate that we can get to the President's desk soon," he said. "In fact, I just got an update from my staff last night from the Energy Resources Committee that there's progress being made, so we'll just keep pushing that ball forward next week in Washington."

Senator Daines was also scheduled to be in Ronan for an appearance on Saturday afternoon.