Daines Thinks Bigger Timber Harvest Might Cool Fire Season - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Daines Thinks Bigger Timber Harvest Might Cool Fire Season

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We're starting to feel the heat from fire season, but Missoula Smokejumpers worry we aren't totally ready.

Congressman Steve Daines took a look around the largest Smokejumper Center in the nation and says he wants to find a way in Washington to give them more money.

Missoula Smokejumper Kurt Rohrbach has been fighting fires for about 12 years. He's been on more than 200 jumps, which is even harder than it sounds when you realize what he has to wear.

Rohrbach and about 70 Smokejumpers cover a region that touches North Dakota, South Dakota, northern Idaho, and Montana. Already this year they've been called out on fires even outside of that, in California and New Mexico.

"Definitely more than 70, we cover a very large area with 70 people and it's just not enough at times when we're getting really busy," said Rohrbach.

With all the equipment, training, and fire personnel, they work with about $9 million.

"We need to change the way that we fund wildfire suppression back in Washington. We need to fund it in such a way that doesn't take away dollars form the Forest Service, which could be used for prevention and reducing wildfire risk," said Representative Steve Daines.

One idea Congressman Daines has is ramping up our timber harvest. Daines says chopping down more wood would create jobs and cut out some fuel for future wildfires.

"The snow is coming off a lot quicker than anyone thought. I mean, it's 95 [degrees Fahrenheit] right now. We're both sweating," said Rohrbach.

Despite a larger than normal snowpack, things are heating up quick, and they've already been called on a few small fires in Montana.

The missoula Smokejumpers report a 95% success rate.

Of the 70 some Smokejumpers, four are women.

 

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