Tester Urges Forest Service to Address Flood Damage in Custer-Gallatin National Forest

Historic flooding this past summer damaged large areas of the Custer-Gallatin National Forest

As part of his continued effort to support flood recovery in Montana, U.S. Senator Jon Tester sent a letter to U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Chief Randy Moore urging the Forest Service to swiftly direct funds he secured for disaster assistance in the recently passed government funding bill to address damage caused by this past summer’s flooding in the Custer-Gallatin National Forest.

“Both in the immediate aftermath of the flooding and in the months since, Forest Service staff worked diligently to use available resources to address damage to habitat, critical infrastructure, and recreation sites throughout the Forest.” wrote Tester. “However, after consulting with both forest users and members of the Forest Service, it’s clear that the Custer-Gallatin Forest has significant unmet needs stemming from this summer’s flooding.”

“On December 22, I joined my colleagues in passing the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, which included $360 million for the Forest Service to respond to natural disasters like the flooding in the Yellowstone River watershed…I worked closely with my colleagues on the Senate Appropriations Committee to include this language so that your agency would have the resources necessary to address the outstanding work that is still needed to respond to this summer’s disaster.”

In December, Tester voted to pass the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, which allocated $360 million for the Forest Service to respond to natural disasters, including $210 million for watershed restoration, critical habitat, and public access and $150 million for capital improvements, such as repairing roads.

Tester has fought tirelessly to ensure that rural communities affected by the flooding have the resources they need to get back on their feet. In July, Tester and his fellow members of the Montana delegation secured assurance from USFS that guides, outfitters, and small businesses would receive support and flexibility in finding alternative options to operate on public lands. And in June, Tester and his colleagues successfully urged the Federal Highway Administration to take immediate action and provide much needed funding through the FWHA Emergency Relief Program to areas affected by flooding resulting in $3 million in funding for Montana roads and highways. They also sent a letter to President Biden, which led to the approval of a major disaster declaration and activation of critical FEMA public assistance and support for recovery efforts.

The State of Montana submitted a disaster declaration request to the federal government on June 15, 2022 in response to major flooding across south-central Montana, which was approved by President Biden the next day. Severe weather has resulted in significant property damage to homes, businesses, roads, sewers, water systems, and Yellowstone National Park. Acting Governor Kirsten Juras declared a statewide disaster on June 14, 2022.

Read the full letter HERE.


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