Tester Secures Nearly $1.6 Million for Wildfire Prevention in Southwest Montana

Funding will come from the Senator’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced that he secured $1,589,160 in U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Community Wildfire Defense Grants from his bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to mitigate wildfire risk in southwestern Montana. The funding awarded to the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, North Gallatin Front Wildland Urban Interface Mitigation Project will be used to mitigate wildfire risk on approximately 1,000 acres of private land. The project will provide cost match funding for private property owners to conduct home ignition zone work on about 700 acres with small-scale landscape work and about 300 acres on larger lots.

Tester worked across the aisle for months to negotiate IIJA with a group of five Republicans, four Democrats, and the White House, and he was the only member of Montana’s congressional delegation to vote for it. 

“As a third-generation farmer, I know that wildfire season creates real challenges for communities like Bozeman,” Tester said. “Too many folks in Washington don’t understand the challenges we face in Montana. That’s why I fought to secure $500 million in my Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for the Community Wildfire Defense Grant Program, which will make sure that local Montana communities have the tools they need to prevent and prepare for fires before they wreak havoc on our land and livelihoods.”

The Community Wildfire Defense Grant Program, or CWDG, is intended to help at-risk local communities and Tribes plan for and reduce the risk against wildfire. This program, which was authorized by IIJA, prioritizes at-risk communities in areas that are at high or very high risk of experiencing a wildfire, are low-income, or have been impacted by a severe disaster that may increase the potential of a wildfire.

Tester has led the charge to mitigate the risk of wildfire in Montana communities. In December, Tester secured $4.4 billion for wildfire suppression in the 2023 government funding package. Tester also secured $1.5 billion in disaster relief funding for the National Park Service in this legislation.

Last June, Tester successfully pushed the Biden Administration to increase pay and support for wildland firefighters ahead of the 2022 fire season. And 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 IIJA.