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

In Meeting With Biden, Gov. Gianforte Pushes For More Forest Management

Gov. Greg Gianforte and six other Western governors met virtually with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to talk about wildfires on July 30, 2021.
Gov. Greg Gianforte and six other Western governors met virtually with President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to talk about wildfires on July 30, 2021.

Gov. Greg Gianforte joined six other western governors Friday in a meeting with President Joe Biden to talk about wildfires. Thousands of acres are burning across the state of Montana amid a severe drought and high temperatures.

The president and a group of bipartisan state leaders discussed the competition for sparse firefighting resources, the cost of containing wildfires and the impact of climate change fueling extreme conditions.

Biden noted that 3.4 million acres have already burned across the West.

“Our resources are already being stretched to keep up. We need more help,” Biden said.

Gianforte told Biden that Montana has spent $13 million so far responding to the fires. The state’s fire fund heading into the summer was full at about $100 million.

Gianforte also told the president that more forest management, like logging and controlled burns, is needed to mitigate wildfire risk. He points to the state’s goal of doubling the acres treated from 11,000 last year to 25,000 this year. State officials have identified 4 million acres in Montana that are a high priority for that work.

“Now’s the time to act. I think it’s all about aggressive initial attack and getting more proactive in our forest management.”

During the meeting, Biden announced the federal government has launched a new app called AIRNow. It tells a user what the air quality is in their zip code and locations of wildfires.

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