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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Gianforte: To Ease Wildfires, Cut Down More Trees

Rice Ridge Fire activity in steep terrain, August 19, 2017.
Rice Ridge Fire activity in steep terrain.

Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte gave a keynote address to the Montana Association of Counties today.

It was the second stop in his “forest jobs tour,” and the congressman told county commissioners the best way to stop wildfires is to cut down more trees.“What we need to do is get back, when we manage our forests, that is, thinning them, we end up with better habitat, we end up with more wildlife, more sporting opportunities, healthier forests, and we have jobs in our mills and fires are less intense and they don’t spread as quickly,” he says.

Both climatologists and forest ecologists say cutting down more trees won’t necessarily help ease Montana’s wildfires, which are driven more by drought and weather.

When asked about the effect climate change has on wildfires:

Greg Gianforte: You know the climate is certainly changing. And as an engineer I know  any input has some effect on the output. Man is on earth so it’s certainly having some effect.

Nate Hegyi: We’re talking about carbon emissions.

GG: Well, there were an awful lot of carbon emissions from these fires this year. The best way to sequester carbon is to have healthy forests that don’t burn.

Gianforte’s spokesperson, Tom Shultz, says the congressman will tour some BLM forest projects in southwestern Montana and visit lumber producers later this week. Shultz was not immediately able to provide times or dates for these visits.

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