Tester Secures Nearly $1.7 Million for Wildfire Prevention in Missoula County

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

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today announced that he secured $1,683,300 in U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Community Wildfire Defense Grants from his bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to mitigate wildfire risk in Missoula County. The funding awarded to the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Blackfoot Watershed Refugia will be used to increase the scale and pace of controlled burning in conjunction with fuel reduction thinning to create paths where fire can pass without destroying homes or infrastructure. In total, the project will help treat approximately 1,500 acres of non-federal forest land.

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 rural communities in Missoula County,” Tester said. “Too many folks in Washington don’t understand the challenges we face in Montana. That’s why I fought to secure the necessary resources in my Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for the Community Wildfire Defense Grant Program, which will make 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.