Montana Changes The Way It Pays For Wildfires - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Montana Changes The Way It Pays For Wildfires

Posted: Updated:
BOZEMAN -

The rising costs to help fight the wildfires are leaving some organizations in a bind, but Montana just changed how they pay their fire bills.

With wildfires burning across Montana and the west, the U.S. Forest Service is running out of money.

The nation's top wildfire-fighting agency was down to $50 million after spending $967 million so far this year. Officials say that $50 million would only have covered a few days on the fire lines.

ABC FOX Montana learned Wednesday the forest service is moving $600 million from its timber, recreation and other areas to fill the gap.

Montana shouldn't have this problem this year. In May legislators changed the way the state finances fires. 

Before this year, Montana didn't set aside money to pay fire bills and left it to the next legislative session to pay the bill.

Many newer state representatives weren't happy about that.

"When you have 35 percent new legislators and they said ‘What? We have to pay for bills that have already been spent and they weren't paid for?'" said Pat Connell, State Representative for District 87.

Connell wrote the bill that was signed into law, creating a fund that will go toward fighting wildfires before they start.

Now, state agencies that don't spend their entire budget will have the extra money diverted into a fund used to fight wildfires, up to $100 million.

Connell said they put a cap on the fire fund to make sure it was used properly

"We did not want to create a slush fund," said Connell. "What we wanted to do was to create a basis that we could ensure payment of any wildfire experience Montana's had."

This isn't the first time the state has looked to create a fund like this. Connell said former Governor Brian Schweitzer wanted to do it this way too, but legislators weren't for it at the time.

They said we didn't need that fund because we had the governor's emergency fund that was an all of eight million dollars annually to take care of that.

Connell said Montana's 2012 fire season cost $50 million.

And as of July 1, the wildfire fighting fund had $51 million.

So far this year, Montana has spent only $3 million.

As of today, the forest service has spent more than $1.6million on the Miner Paradise Complex fire.

This year's fire season cost federal agencies $1.2 billion so far. And with 51 large uncontained fires burning across the nation, officials say resources are tight across the board.

  • NationalMore>>

  • Witness in ex-Va. gov trial: Gifts, but no affair

    Witness in ex-Va. gov trial: Gifts, but no affair

    Friday, August 1 2014 5:43 AM EDT2014-08-01 09:43:05 GMT
    The key witness in the corruption trial of Virginia's former governor and his wife said his association with the couple was fraught with bad decisions - but an affair with the first lady was not one of them.
    The key witness in the corruption trial of Virginia's former governor and his wife said his association with the couple was fraught with bad decisions - but an affair with the first lady was not one of them.
  • Florida preserve brings wolves, people together

    Florida preserve brings wolves, people together

    Friday, August 1 2014 4:52 AM EDT2014-08-01 08:52:05 GMT
    At Seacrest Wolf Preserve in northern Florida, billed as the largest such facility in the Southeast, owners Cynthia and Wayne Watkins say they raise their wolves to become accustomed to humans - and for a $25 fee,...
    At Seacrest Wolf Preserve in northern Florida, billed as the largest such facility in the Southeast, owners Cynthia and Wayne Watkins say they raise their wolves to become accustomed to humans - and for a $25 fee, they...
  • USDA overhauls 50 year-old poultry inspections

    USDA overhauls 50 year-old poultry inspections

    Friday, August 1 2014 4:44 AM EDT2014-08-01 08:44:02 GMT
    The Obama administration is attempting to cut down on thousands of foodborne illnesses linked to chicken and turkey each year with an overhaul of poultry plant inspection rules that are more than 50 years old.
    The Obama administration is moving to cut down on the thousands of foodborne illnesses linked to chicken and turkey each year with an overhaul of poultry plant inspection rules that are more than 50 years old.
  • Most Popular

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • ABC All-Stars: BSHS Softball Players Redemption

    ABC All-Stars: BSHS Softball Players Redemption

    Thursday, July 31 2014 8:16 PM EDT2014-08-01 00:16:08 GMT
    After a heartbreaking loss in the State AA Championship game, a core group of girls from Big Sky High School have stayed positive in their road to redemption.
    After a heartbreaking loss in the State AA Championship game, a core group of girls from Big Sky High School have stayed positive in their road to redemption.
  • LOOK: Faces Of WA State's Missing People

    LOOK: Faces Of WA State's Missing People

    Thursday, February 27 2014 11:49 AM EST2014-02-27 16:49:33 GMT
    SPOKANE, Wash. - The missing persons listed in this slideshow resided in the state of Washington at the time of their disappearance or may have traveled to Washington State. These pictures came from Washington State Patrol's website. If you have any information about any of these missing people call 1-800-543-5678.
    SPOKANE, Wash. - The missing persons listed in this slideshow resided in the state of Washington at the time of their disappearance or may have traveled to Washington State. These pictures came from Washington State Patrol's website. If you have any information about any of these missing people call 1-800-543-5678.
  • Big Dipper Plans New Parlor In Billings

    Big Dipper Plans New Parlor In Billings

    Friday, August 1 2014 12:27 AM EDT2014-08-01 04:27:24 GMT
    The Big Dipper plans a new parlor in Billings.
    The Big Dipper plans a new parlor in Billings.
  • Many Frustrated By Stalled Cobell Settlements

    Many Frustrated By Stalled Cobell Settlements

    Wednesday, July 16 2014 9:30 PM EDT2014-07-17 01:30:30 GMT
    In Congress Wednesday, the group in charge of doling out Cobell settlement claims says it's waiting on setting exact amounts and a judge's okay before making the rest of the payments.
    In Congress Wednesday, the group in charge of doling out Cobell settlement claims says it's waiting on setting exact amounts and a judge's okay before making the rest of the payments.
  • Bozeman Mayor Responds to Public Meeting's Abrupt End

    Bozeman Mayor Responds to Public Meeting's Abrupt End

    Friday, August 1 2014 12:31 AM EDT2014-08-01 04:31:42 GMT
    A public meeting in Bozeman Wednesday night, updating residents on efforts to mitigate violate organic compounds near the Story Mill Road landfill, ended abruptly after one man began shouting at the Mayor.
    A public meeting in Bozeman Wednesday night, updating residents on efforts to mitigate violate organic compounds near the Story Mill Road landfill, ended abruptly after one man began shouting at the Mayor.
  • Missoula Business Finds Niche in Treehouses

    Missoula Business Finds Niche in Treehouses

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 4:24 PM EDT2014-07-30 20:24:43 GMT
    For most of us, being able to walk out your back door and take off flying around your backyard, finally coming to a rest high in the trees-- only exists in our imagination.
    For most of us, being able to walk out your back door and take off flying around your backyard, finally coming to a rest high in the trees-- only exists in our imagination.
  • Counterfeit One Dollar Bills in Butte

    Counterfeit One Dollar Bills in Butte

    Wednesday, July 30 2014 8:09 PM EDT2014-07-31 00:09:41 GMT
    Some people in Butte discover the money in their wallet is fake. Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, Benjamin Franklin, those are the faces you usually see on counterfeit money but George Washington? Now, that's rare.
    Some people in Butte discover the money in their wallet is fake. Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, Benjamin Franklin, those are the faces you usually see on counterfeit money but George Washington? Now, that's rare.
  • MHP Increases Patrols For Testicle Festival

    MHP Increases Patrols For Testicle Festival

    Thursday, July 31 2014 6:41 PM EDT2014-07-31 22:41:38 GMT
    The 33rd annual Testicle Festival is underway, and officers are bringing in the reinforcements to prevent DUI's.
    The 33rd annual Testicle Festival is underway, and officers are bringing in the reinforcements to prevent DUI's.
Powered by WorldNow

Features

  • More Features
  • Powered by WorldNow
    All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and Cowles Montana Media. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.