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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

'Fire Borrowing' Gets The Ax In Federal Spending Bill

The Rice Ridge Fire seen from Seeley Lake on August 1, 2017.
Eric Whitney
The Rice Ridge Fire seen from Seeley Lake on August 1, 2017.

There will be no more so-called "fire-borrowing" from the U.S. Forest Service if the big federal spending bill Congress is working on passes. 

Both of Montana's U.S. Senators confirmed today that the spending bill expected to be voted on this week fundamentally changes how America pays to fight wildfires

"The Forest Service will now fund catastrophic wildfires the same way we do other natural disasters. This is a huge step forward," said Democrat Senator Jon Tester

Tester said that funding wildfires like disasters could free up as much as half of the agency's budget to address backlogs of other forest management work. Republican Senator Steve Daines echoed that. 

"It allows the Forest Service to use more of the its funds on timber management, forest management and recreation programs, rather than fire suppression," said Daines. 

Senators Daines and Tester spoke this morning, before the text of the Omnibus federal spending bill was made public. 

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