June 16, 2023
Montana’s Gov. Greg Gianforte recently used a visit to his state by U.S. Forest Service Chief Randy Moore and other federal officials to emphasize the need for active forest management.
“I’m grateful to Chief Moore for traveling to Montana to see the severity of the forest health crisis we face,” Gianforte said. “We must increase the pace and scale of forest management across federal, state, tribal, and private lands to prevent catastrophic wildfire, preserve wildlife habitat, and protect our way of life.”
Gianforte, Moore and representatives from the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation toured the Basin Creek water treatment plant in Butte and then went to Lobell Gulch to discuss a future Good Neighbor Authority project.
Established in the 2014 Farm Bill, GNA projects allow states, counties and Native American tribes to enter into agreements to restore national forest lands on federal agencies’ behalf.
The Basin Creek plant processes 60 percent of water for Butte residents from 7,700 acres of watershed. Ninety percent of the watershed acres are owned and managed by USFS.
A catastrophic wildfire in the area would likely deem the plant “unusable,” warned Jim Keenan with Butte-Silver Bow County.
“Depending on the severity of the wildfire, storms and snowpack runoff in subsequent years, and how much material is mobilized into the reservoir, I think it might take as much as a decade or more for it to recover to a point where we could use this water treatment plant again,” Keenan said.
The tour on June 6 followed a fire briefing in May, where Gianforte called on federal agencies to work with the state to bring more private, state, tribal, and federal acres under management.
Source: Office of Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte
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