Why isn’t a wildfire classified as a natural disaster?
That’s one question Senator Steve Daines asked the crowd at Thursday’s Eastern Montana Fire Briefing.
The conference was held with the Department of Natural Resources and Fire Conservation (DNRC) outside of the Southern Lands Office in Billings to address current and future wildfire activity. There, Daines expressed his support for a bill that would classify wildfires as natural disasters, and respond to them accordingly.
“Like a tornado, or a hurricane. The reason that’s important is then the Forest Service can receive funding through a different avenue than having to take dollars away from actively managing our forest to fight our wildfires” Daines said.
Daines said he also supports investing more in fire prevention measures like managing and maintaining forests, which would create more jobs as well.
The Senator closed the Fire Briefing, which also included speakers from various federal, state, and city agencies (National Weather Service, Bureau of Land Management, United States Forest Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Crow Tribe, Yellowstone County Commissioners) that all have a hand in fire prevention and response.
Most attendees of the briefing agreed that although Eastern Montana is at a much lower risk for wildfires than the Western side of the state, it’s important to continue to educate the public about wildfire prevention and dangers.
More information about wildfires and wildfire prevention in your area can be found at www.ready.gov/wildfire.