Daines, Tester criticize wildfire and trail funding

Chinook Helicopters on Marston Fire, Aug 19, 2015
Chinook Helicopters on Marston Fire, Aug 19, 2015

Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines are not happy about the state of Forest Service funding for fighting wildfires and maintaining trails . . .

As the U.S. Forest Service prepares for the looming wildfire season, Montana’s senators are calling for reforms to the agency’s forest and trail management.

U.S. Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines questioned Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell last week during a Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee hearing focused on the agency’s $4.8 billion budget request for the next fiscal year.

Tester and Daines criticized Tidwell for failing to prioritize trail maintenance in Montana. The agency has revised its formula for funding trail maintenance across the U.S. with an added emphasis on higher population centers. In Region One, which encompasses all of Montana and has 28,000 miles of federally managed trails, the agency plans to reduce appropriations by 30 percent over the next three years. There is an estimated $25 million in deferred trail maintenance in Region One, according to a Forest Service report.

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