Tester hails new assistance to fight wildfires

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester today released the following statement after the Senate approved an additional $850 million to fight wildfires across the American West:

“Montanans and folks across the West continue to deal with this summer’s record-breaking wildfire season. This assistance will support recovery efforts now and better prepare rural communities for the future. This is a common-sense investment in Montana that deserves support.”

The U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management will receive an additional $423 million to cover the costs of this year’s record wildfires. They will also receive an increase of $429 million to fight wildfires next year, putting the agencies’ firefighting budgets in line with the ten-year average to fight wildfires.

Tester fought to ensure the quick delivery of emergency resources for Montana farmers and ranchers in the wake of this year’s wildfires. He announced in August that more Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land would be opened for haying and grazing and recently secured assistance from the Forest Service to begin rebuilding fences across southern Montana damaged by this summer’s record-breaking fires.

Today’s assistance comes as part of a larger bill to fund the government into 2013. The measure keeps the government’s budget within the limits set forth in last year’s bipartisan Budget Control Act.

More than 1,750 wildfires fires are burning, or have burned, in Montana this year.