Tester Meets with New Forest Service Chief

Senator Pushes for Immediate Action to Mitigate Fire Risks, Boost Production at Local Mills

(U.S. Senate)-On the heels of a devastating wildfire season, U.S. Senator Jon Tester is urging U.S. Forest Chief Tony Tooke to take immediate action to improve forest management and increase public access to public land.

During an in-person meeting this week, Tester pushed Tooke for immediate action to mitigate fire risks and boost production for lumber mills. Tester also underscored the urgent need to improve the management of and increase access to Montana’s public lands.

“The Forest Service plays a critical role in Montana because our economy and heritage our directly tied to our public lands,” Tester said. “I look forward to working with you to responsibly manage our forests and ensure all Montanans have access to these special places for generations to come.”

Tester told Tooke to immediately start salvaging logs that are dead but didn’t fully burn during the wildfire season and plan for significant road maintenance to repair transportation infrastructure that was damaged by wildfires.

Tester asked Tooke to work hand-in-hand with Congress to eliminate the need for the Forest Service to borrow funds to fight wildfires, shore up the Forest Service budget, and fund fighting wildfires like other natural disasters. Tester is supporting legislation to end fire-borrowing and ensure the Forest Service has the funding certainty to proactively manage the forest, mitigate fires risks, and improve trail and road maintenance.

Tester also emphasized the impact that wildfire seasons have on the state’s largest industries: agriculture and outdoor recreation. Wildfires have burned more than 1.2 million acres in Montana this year, which is three times the ten-year average.

Chief Tooke was sworn in to lead the Forest Service on September 1st.

A list of Tester’s priorities for Chief Tooke is available HERE.