Governor Greg Gianforte last week toured the Ski Dale Good Neighbor Authority project in the Kootenai National Forest, the first of its kind in Lincoln County.
“Our Montana comeback depends on actively managing our forests, which makes them healthier, reduces the risk of catastrophic wildfires, and creates more Montana jobs,” Gov. Gianforte said.
During the tour, the governor met with staff professionals from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) who are actively working to reduce wildfire risk in the Kootenai National Forest, which constitutes 78 percent of the total land in Lincoln County.
In the 2020 revision of the Montana Forest Action Plan, Lincoln County had the most acres at risk of wildfire and degraded forest health conditions compared to all counties in Montana. In the Montana Wildfire Risk Assessment, Lincoln County also ranks among the highest in the state for percentage of structures and critical infrastructure that are at very high or extreme risk from wildfire.
The governor also toured the Lincoln County Port Authority, where he spoke to county commissioners and foresters about the opportunity to expand active forest management in the county and create more jobs.
“Given the enormity of acreage in need of treatment in Lincoln County, there’s a real opportunity to expand critical milling infrastructure in the county,” the governor added. “This will help create more good-paying, local jobs right here in Libby to support Montana’s forest products industry.”
Consistent with the governor’s goals to increase use of the Good Neighbor Authority and collaborative stewardship agreements, DNRC is working to treat approximately 25,000 acres by the end of the year.
Finally, Gov. Gianforte encouraged Montanans to be proactive ahead of wildfire season, saying, “This Wildfire Awareness Month, I remind all Montanans to take steps to better prepare their home and communities for wildfire.”
Wildfirerisk.org includes helpful tips to reduce wildfire risk in Montana communities.