Tester secures assistance to rebuild Forest Service fences

Damaged by fire, rebuilt fences will protect livestock and support Montana’s ranchers

(BIG SANDY, Mont.) – Continuing his push to help Montana ranchers recover from this summer’s record wildfires, Senator Jon Tester today announced that the U.S. Forest Service will begin rebuilding Forest Service fences across southern Montana.

Tester secured a commitment from Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell to provide more than $300,000 to rebuild fences within and along Forest Service lands. Hundreds of miles of National Forest fences need to be repaired or replaced. Without fencing, ranchers cannot control their herds and prevent livestock from roaming onto private property.

Tester, who recently called on the Forest Service to quickly rebuild the fencing, said the Forest Service’s announcement is a step in the right direction.

“Ranching is hard work and Montana’s ranchers need speedy assistance to manage their livestock and make up for time lost by this summer’s wildfires,” Tester said. “Rebuilding these fences will help ranchers get our economy back on track, and I’ll push the Forest Service to get these new fences in place as quickly as possible.”

Tester also announced that the Forest Service will begin assessing how to reduce the risk of soil erosion and flooding in the areas recently affected by the Ash Creek and Taylor fires.

Major fires began in June in Montana, well before the official start of wildfire season on August 1. As of August 15, 1,360 fires had burned nearly 750,000 acres across Montana and destroyed nearly 400 structures, including dozens of homes in Musselshell and Rosebud counties. The Federal Emergency Management Agency recently declared Rosebud and Powder River Counties, as well as Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, federal disaster areas.

Tester and fellow Montana Senator Max Baucus announced last week that Montana’s farmers and ranchers in seven additional counties gained access to emergency resources through the Emergency Conservation Program (ECP), which allows farmers and ranchers access to resources to help restore fences and water and conservation structures.


Tester’s Letter to Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell Tidwell’s Response to Tester