Gianforte Provides Montana Fire Update to U.S. House Committee
On Thursday, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte provided a wildfire update to a U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee Wildfire Forum about ‘Preventing Catastrophic Wildfires and Restoring Forest Health and Resiliency’.
“As we meet this morning, Montana currently has 18 large scale fires burning at this moment across our landscape,” said Governor Gianforte. “This year alone, we've seen over 1,500 wildfires burn more than 200,000 acres in Montana and it's only July. Just this month, we've had over 500 new wildfire starts.”
Gianforte continued with his presentation.
“These wildfires threaten the safety of our communities, our first responders, devastate our local economies and have cost Montana taxpayers already over $8 million this fiscal year, which started just 22 days ago,” he said. “I have long said Montana faces a forest health crisis and addressing this issue is one of my top priorities.”
Gianforte said there are millions of acres of Montana forest lands facing the threat of wildfires.
“The recent revision of our Montana Forest Action Plan identifies over 9 million acres of forest land with significant forest health issues and an elevated risk of wildfire,” he said. “Of those 9 million acres we found nearly 4 million acres of forest land that would benefit most from cross boundary forest management.”
Gianforte proposes that the Montana DNRC manage more forest lands for fire protection.
“Given the need to actively manage our forest, I've charged the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to double the acres it treats this year over last year. Last year, the department treated only 11,000 acres. This is sort of like emptying the ocean with a teaspoon. This year, we're aiming at over 25,000 acres. It's certainly directionally correct, but it's just a starting point.”
Montana Congressman Matt Rosendale introduced Gianforte to the committee before his presentation.
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