Tester Secures More Than $9.8 Million for Wildfire Mitigation in Kootenai National Forest

Funding comes from his bipartisan infrastructure law and the Inflation Reduction Act

As a direct result of his bipartisan infrastructure law and the Inflation Reduction Act, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced $9,846,884 for wildfire mitigation in the Kootenai National Forest, including forest thinning, prescribed burns, and planting on U.S. Forest Service (USFS) land and state lands where there are agreements in place between the state and county. 

This funding comes from Tester’s bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act. Tester negotiated the IIJA with a group of five Republicans and four Democrats, and was the only member of Montana’s congressional delegation to support the legislation.

“When wildfires hit, it’s families, businesses, homes, and land that pay the price, and we’ve got to do whatever we can to protect our communities and mitigate damage—particularly as our fire seasons have grown longer and more dangerous,” said Tester. “That’s why I worked to include funding in my bipartisan infrastructure law to ensure the Forest Service has the tools and resources they need to protect our land and our communities, and I’ll continue to make sure this funding is used effectively and efficiently.”

The Kootenai Complex will continue treating hazardous fuels deemed “high risk” selected in the first round of priority landscapes by Secretary Vilsack. In addition to protecting Lincoln County from the threat of wildfires, this project works alongside a regional effort to increase infrastructure capacity for timber, which would expand employment opportunities for residents. The Kootenai Project would also contribute to ongoing conservation efforts in the area, improving wildlife habitat, forest health, and water quality.

As Chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, Tester has led the charge to mitigate the risk of wildfire in Montana communities. Tester secured $4.4 billion for wildfire suppression in the 2023 government funding package. In November of 2021, Tester secured $3.37 billion to reduce wildfire risk, which included $500 million for Forest Service Community Defense Grants, $500 million for prescribed fires, $500 million for mechanical thinning and timber harvest, and $200 million for post-fire restoration activities through his bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.


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