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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Rep. Zinke: Glacier Rim Fire Proves Forest Management Reform Is Needed

Rep. Ryan Zinke
Eric Whitney
Rep. Ryan Zinke. File photo.

Montana's Representative in the U.S. House says a wildfire burning near Glacier National Park shows why comprehensive forest management reform is needed. Republican Ryan Zinke yesterday visited with crews fighting the 85-acre Glacier Rim Fire.It’s burning in an area that caught fire in 2003.

"The Forest Service, through threats of lawsuits wasn't able to salvage the timber. So there's timber standing that's on fire again. It's difficult to put a crew in because the timber's standing and is dangerous. We should make sure that we reduce the fuel load of our forests and return to healthy forests," Zinke said.

Zinke's co-sponsoring a bill that would expedite forest management on federal lands.

Among other concerns, opponents say the "Resilient Federal Forests Act" undermines environmental laws and blocks the public's right to challenge inadequate projects. Zinke refutes all those allegations. He says it encourages cooperative forest management planning. 

He expects a floor vote on the bill sometime next week.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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