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Daines, Tester make separate calls for forest-management reform - KBZK.com | Continuous News | Bozeman, Montana

Daines, Tester make separate calls for forest-management reform

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Steve Daines said Wednesday that stronger forest management practices are needed to prevent future wildfires, while his fellow Montanan, Sen. Jon Tester, demanded more federal dollars for emergency firefighting.

Daines, a Republican, spoke in Washington, D.C., alongside the new U.S. Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke about how the massive fires of this summer are proof for forest-management reform. He said radical environmentalists are blocking common-sense projects that would decrease fire future fire dangers.

“Either we’re going to manage our forests or our forests are going to manage us,” said Daines. “We’ve seen that this summer, and ultimately better forest management is right for the environment. We are true environmentalists when we manage this incredible resource we have in our public lands and our national forests.”

More than 1 million acres burned from wildfires in Montana and over 8 million burned nationwide so far this season.

Tooke said the Forest Service is the only agency that is required to fund all emergency operations out of its regular budget, meaning a bad wildfire season makes in near impossible for the department to do other work throughout the year.

Tester, a Democrat, said at a separate hearing that budget reform is needed in the forestry department to free up money for forest management and other projects, instead of having to spend so much on emergency response.

“Congress must pass legislation to mend the broken way we fund wildfires so we can treat wildfire funding just like the natural disaster that it is,” said Tester. “The Forest Service must have the tools to go through a public process so that we can cut more trees and remove the dead and dying debris that fuel these fires.”

Tester added that the time has come for the Senate to have an honest debate about climate change. 

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