Gianforte Leads House in Focusing Attention on Wildfires
Montana Congressman Greg Gianforte led an effort on the House floor to draw attention to wildfires and the need for forest management reforms.
Following another devastating wildfire season throughout the country, Gianforte organized lawmakers to address how catastrophic wildfires have impacted their communities and how reforms can reduce the risk of severe wildfires.
“Mr. Speaker, I appreciate my colleagues bringing the attention of this Chamber to wildfires and the need for forest management reform,” Gianforte said.
“Like my colleagues, I urge the Senate to act on commonsense measures this Chamber has sent so that Montanans can spend a summer in their forests, enjoying them, not having to breathe them at home,” Gianforte said.
Gianforte highlighted the destruction caused by wildfires in Montana and across the country. Gianforte, who met with firefighters and incident commanders at five fires in 2017, surveyed the Howe Ridge Fire in August. The fire in Glacier National Park has claimed 27 structures and cost an estimated $13.6 million to fight.
“The Howe Ridge Fire in Glacier National Park consumed over 14,000 acres. I was there. I saw the devastation. It destroyed homes on the shores of Lake McDonald. These are historic national buildings lost to fire,” Gianforte said.
Gianforte also highlighted efforts in the House to enact meaningful forest management reforms with the Resilient Federal Forests Act, a measure Gianforte cosponsored which passed the House last November. After nearly a year, the Senate has yet to consider the bill.
“The legislation provides commonsense reforms that will benefit our forests, economy, and the environment,” said Gianforte. “Conservation organizations, foresters, stakeholders, and local leaders throughout Montana recognize the need for reforms to get us managing our forests again.”
Reps. John Curtis (Utah), Paul Gosar (Ariz.), and Glenn “GT” Thompson (Penn.) joined Gianforte. The members talked about the impact of wildfires in their districts as well as the critical need for forest management reforms to improve forest health and public safety.
“I want to thank you for your leadership on this topic and issue,” said Thompson in a floor dialogue with Gianforte.
In September, Gianforte urged leaders of the Farm Bill conference committee to include forest management reforms in the bill.
In August 2018, Gianforte met with firefighters and surveyed the Howe Ridge Fire in Glacier National Park.
Earlier in August, Gianforte, chairman of the Interior, Energy, and Environment Subcommittee, convened a field briefing in Hamilton to address wildfire management.
In June 2018, Gianforte amended the Farm Bill to include key forest management reform provisions.
Also in June, Gianforte called on the Senate to take up bipartisan forest management reforms the House passed in November 2017.
In March 2018, Gianforte urged leaders on the House Appropriations Committee to include measures to reform how federal forests are managed in the fiscal year 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Bill.
Also in March, Gianforte and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke addressed the need for forest management reform, specifically the Resilient Federal Forests Act, at a hearing of the House Committee on Natural Resources.
In November 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bipartisan Resilient Federal Forests Act, a measure Gianforte sponsored that addresses the growing economic and environmental threats of catastrophic wildfires.
In October 2017, Gianforte and Congressman Bruce Westerman (R, Ark.), a trained forester, met with Montanans impacted by severe wildfires and a lack of meaningful forest management.
Earlier in October, Gianforte secured $576.5 million for wildfire recovery and suppression in a natural disaster aid bill.
On September 27, 2017, Gianforte welcomed Ravalli County Commissioner Greg Chilcott to a congressional hearing to advocate for forest management reform.
On September 26, 2017, Gianforte called for better forest management on the House floor. The speech followed his Forest Jobs Tour earlier in the month.
On September 7, 2017, Gianfort focused Washington’s attention on Montana’s wildfires. Pointing to an image of a wildfire approaching Lolo, Gianforte said, “I hope this image and the others from back home will make my colleagues more aware of the fires’ devastation and the need for relief in the Treasure State.”
In July 2017, Gianforte visited the July Fire in Zortman, the first in what would be tours of five fire sites, including the Lodgepole Complex Fires, the Bruner Mountain Fire, the Park Creek Fire, and the Lolo Peak Fire.