Governor Says State Prepared For Fire Season
Governor Greg Gianforte convened local, state, tribal and federal agency administrators and fire management officers last week for the 2023 fire briefing.
“Advancing our agenda this legislative session, Montana has more resources than ever before to effectively and aggressively respond to and prevent wildfire,” Gianforte said after the briefing. “For the benefit of our communities, people, and way of life, we’ll continue to better manage our forests, reduce fuel loads, and put wildfires out as quickly and safely as possible.”
The annual fire briefing comes on the heels of the 68th Legislative Session, in which the Gianforte administration advanced historic legislation to improve forest health and protect communities from wildfire.
“As a result of this legislative session, we’re investing $30 million in wildfire risk reduction and forest health improvement projects, and an additional $30 million to increase the state’s wildfire response and initial attack capabilities,” the governor shared, referring to House Bill 883.
The governor emphasized the success of these proven policies to the group.
In 2022, the Montana Department of Resources and Conservation kept 95 percent of fires in its direct protection to 10 acres or fewer. The state also placed over 31,000 forested acres under management in 2022, compared to 11,000 acres in 2020.
“Led by director Kaster and the team at DNRC, Montana has become a national leader in increasing the pace and scale of forest management,” the governor said. “My challenge to folks around this table is to find projects, build partnerships, and utilize the tools available to bring more acres under active management.”
DNRC director Amanda Kaster echoed the governor, adding, “Each partner in this room has a role to play in addressing the forest health and wildfire crisis. It is our strong partnerships, dedication, and collaboration that will make us successful. DNRC will continue to lead the way.”
The current forest health crisis in Montana has created a significant risk for catastrophic wildfire. The governor urged Montanans to do their part to prevent wildfire.
“We can’t stop every wildfire from starting, but we can control what we do to prevent them,” Gov. Gianforte said. “The better prepared we are, the safer and more effective our firefighters can be.”