Montana Sen. Steve Daines said Friday that the state and federal governments need to better manage forests to reduce the risk and severity of wildfires.
Daines pushed that message at a roundtable discussion at the Baxter Hotel in Bozeman along with members of the Senate Western Caucus and other agencies across the state.
Daines apologized to the group inside the hotel for the haze that covered the view of the Bridger Mountains because of wildfire smoke. Years ago, he said, if you came to Montana in August the horizon was clear. That was around the same time the state had about 30 active sawmills, Daines said, noting that there were only eight in Montana now.
“That probably says it all,” Daines told the crowd. “We’re not doing the active forest management like we used to.”
The Republican senator brought the caucus to Bozeman for a “hands-on” approach and to hear input on issues like the farm bill, agriculture production, national park maintenance backlogs and natural resource development. Several groups attended the meeting including the Montana Mining Association, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Montana Farm Bureau Federation and Boone and Crockett Club.