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Wildfire, fire management and air quality news for western Montana and the Northern Rockies.

2017 Likely Montana's Most Expensive Fire Season, Report Says

Montana Fire Suppression Costs.
Montana Legislative Fiscal Division
Montana Fire Suppression Costs.

A new state report says 2017 was likely the the most expensive fire season in Montana history.

That report by state legislative analysts said the state spent $74 million on fire suppression. The next closest year was 2012, when the state spent less than $60 million.

The analysts say this year's costs mean that Montana is in line to overspend its two year firefighting budget by more than $50 million.

In order to pay for this year’s work, and have enough cash in the bank for next fire season, the LFD report says lawmakers can take three potential actions.

Lawmakers could increase their financial appropriation to the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation or to Military Affairs.

Or, the Legislature could choose to refill the drained accounts by transferring money from other government accounts, or by raising taxes for new revenue.

Any of these solutions would require a special legislative session.

Corin Cates-Carney manages MTPR’s daily and long-term news projects. After spending more than five years living and reporting across Western and Central Montana, he became news director in early 2020.
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