A recent “guest column” in the Inter Lake proclaimed “D.C. politics hurts Montana wildland firefighters.” The column started off appropriate enough, expressing concern for wildfire funding; however, the author soon launched into a rant against Montana Sen. Steve Daines, thereby, revealing that the column was also an exercise in political vilification.
Apparently, the author was upset that — in addition to providing a solution to how the U.S. Forest Service is forced to fund wildfire suppression — Sen. Daines is also committed to addressing the reason wildfire costs are spinning out of control.
One can only conclude that the author supports appropriating money to fight wildfires while ignoring the fact that — in Montana alone — over 5 million acres of overstocked and diseased forestland are at risk of catastrophic wildfire. Nationally, that number is an astounding 60 to 80 million acres.
It is, of course, absurd to think that any member of Congress would ignore the need for forest management reforms that strive to provide federal land management agencies with the tools necessary to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire.
Instead of condemning Sen. Daines for his commitment to reducing the costs, devastation and causation of wildfires, we should thank him for his leadership and foresight.
The author concluded her column by stating, “Playing politics with our forests isn’t good for any of us.” She’s right… and she would do well to heed her own advice. —Keith Olson, Kalispell, executive director, Montana Logging Association