Tester pushes for more resources to combat Glacier National Park fire
Senator demands BIA work closely with Blackfeet if fire prepares to enter the Reservation
(U.S. Senate)-Senator Jon Tester is urging the Obama Administration to provide the necessary resources and work closely with the Blackfeet Nation to combat the over 4,000 acre fire that is raging in Glacier National Park.
In a letter to Interior Department Secretary Sally Jewell, Tester pushed the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) to prepare firefighting staff and additional resources to be ready if the fire enters the boundary of the Blackfeet Reservation. Earlier this month Tester sent a letter to President Obama to ensure that all federal agencies are well prepared for this summer’s fire season.
“The wildfire raging in Glacier National Park threatens not only one of our country’s most beautiful landscapes, but also the tourism industry in my home state,” Tester said. “The federal government has a trust responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of the Blackfeet Nation, as well as ensure they have the resources necessary to protect their homelands from impending disaster.”
Tester also highlighted a contradiction in the Interior Department’s firefighting policy, which prioritizes the early attack and prevention of fires, but conflicts with the BIA’s current firefighting policy at the Blackfeet Reservation, which requires the Blackfeet Tribe to pay for emergency firefighting staffing costs upfront and limits their prevention strategies.
The Blackfeet Tribe has reached out to the BIA about firefighting staffing on several occasions this year to prepare for fire season, but have been unsatisfied with responses they have been given, and to date no additional personnel have been hired.
Tester’s letter to Secretary Jewell is available HERE.