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

Gianforte says state, federal partnership will expand Kootenai National Forest fire mitigation work

Gov. Greg Gianforte Wednesday announced that in the coming years state foresters will work on more projects aimed at reducing wildfire risk near homes in the Kootenai National Forest.

Under what’s known as Good Neighbor Authority, the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation can carry out logging, thinning and other projects on U.S. Forest Service Land.

Gianforte says a new expanded agreement with the Kootenai National Forest aims to work on 10,000 acres annually for the next 10 years. He says those projects would help protect homes near Forest Service land from wildfire risk.

If that goal is reached it would be a significant increase in state foresters work on federal land. The DNRC managed roughly 1,500 acres of projects on the Kootenai National Forest last year and the agency worked on nearly 7,800 acres statewide.

The connection between humans and fire goes back millions of years. What started with campfires and cooking grew into a burning addiction that catalyzed the Industrial Revolution and now shapes nearly every aspect of our society. Now, our ongoing reliance on fire in its many forms is changing the climate with explosive consequences for wildfires — and much more.