Montana Ag Network: Ranchers working to prevent catastrophic wildfires

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, there are 93 active large wildfires currently burning across the U.S., which have charred over 1.8 million acres. And ranchers are working with Congress and the Trump administration on the need to prevent these catastrophic wildfires in the future.

Kaitlynn Glover is the executive director of NCBA’s Natural Resources and the Public Lands Council and says even though fire is a natural part of the ecosystem, preventing these catastrophic wildfires is important to America’s livestock industry.

“Fire is a natural part of the ecosystem cycle,” said Glover. “We’re trying to prevent these large, catastrophic, incredibly hot, incredibly fast-moving fires that do take the homes, the outbuildings and more. We’ve seen horrific images in the past of cattle and sheep which aren’t able to get out of the way. These are the kind of fires that we’re trying to prevent.”

She says lessons can be learned from the past so future regulations and treatments fit the environment’s true resource needs.

“If we make these regulations right-sized, if we make sure that we have the flexibility to react to a fire on the ground or to a flood on the ground or even drought conditions, we’re going to find that our managers are going to be much more successful,” said Glover. “And ultimately, we will see better range conditions, better conditions for cattle, better conditions for our rural communities who face all of these impacts when catastrophic fire comes through.”

U.S. Sens. Steve Daines, R-Mont., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., recently introduced bipartisan forest management reform legislation, which among other things increases active management of federal forests and gives the U.S. Forest Service the tools to protect communities from deadly wildfires.