WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tribes and counties could keep revenue from timber projects on federal lands under a bill that’s gaining momentum in the House of Representatives, after several Washington Democrats backed legislation first introduced by two Idaho Republicans.

The measure would expand a program called Good Neighbor Authority, which Congress first enacted in 2014 to let states partner with the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management to conduct projects on federal land, such as thinning forests in an effort to make wildfires less severe. Lawmakers extended that authority to tribes and counties in 2018 but didn’t allow them to keep the revenue from those projects.

In March, Rep. Russ Fulcher and Sen. Jim Risch reintroduced a bill that would change that. And unlike when the two Idaho Republicans first introduced the bill in 2020, they now have the support of several Democrats, led by Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Pérez of southwest Washington.

“Frankly, the federal government is overwhelmed,” Fulcher, who represents North Idaho, said in an interview. “They don’t have the resources to manage all this land, so they don’t, and by default we wind up burning it up. That’s the blunt reality that we are dealing with, but Good Neighbor Authority is one of the bright spots.”

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