Russian Firefighters Learn From Montana Counterparts
A delegation of Russian firefighters and conservationists is in Montana getting a western perspective on forestry and fire management. The delegation spent part of Monday with Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation staff in Missoula.
Sofia Kosacheva says the Russian wildfire season can get intense.
"Because we have a big country, the first fires we have happen in January or February. The last of the fires happen maybe in November. It lasts all year."
Kosacheva is a volunteer wildland firefighter with Greenpeace Russia. Greenpeace Russia staffers fight fires in some of the country’s most valuable lands — their national parks.
Grigoriy Kuksin says they also spend a lot of their time holding the Russian government’s feet to the fire.
"Sometimes what we do conflicts with what authorities do because often the authorities do not really want to admit that there are fires in certain areas."
Kuksin is head of Greenpeace Russia’s Fire-Protection Program. He helps train public workers and citizen volunteers how to fight those big Russian fires.
The entire delegation is in here at the invitation of the city of Great Fall’s Advisory Commission on International Relationships.
The Commission’s Dr. Sandra Erickson:
"President Eisenhower said that people needed to meet people. If people could [do that], countries would have better relations. We are not governmental or political, but we do bring people to people on different themes. This one happens to be fire protection; a citizen’s diplomacy."
The Russian delegation will also visit Helena before returning to Great Falls later this week.