Last week, federal authorities announced an action plan to fight against the increase in wildfires the country has been facing each year. The size of the fires has been larger and the fire season is almost year-round.

An established funding program with the slogan "conservation beyond boundaries," the Joint Chiefs' Landscape Restoration Partnership is part of the federal response. It already has been providing money for projects throughout the US since 2014. In 2022, four Montana projects are included. Montana Senator Steve Daines reported the new plans. They are the Gallatin Valley Resiliency and Watershed Health, the Libby Surround Stewardship, Fire Adapted Bitterroot, and Connecting Fuels Treatments in the Salish Mountains and Whitefish Range.

Daines, in a news release, said, "These resources support important forest management projects across Montana landscapes that are critical to improving the health of our forests and watersheds and reducing wildfire risk. We must manage our forests before they manage us."

The $1,438,575 Fire Adapted Bitterroot project would treat lower elevation fuels on 1,350 acres along the Sapphire range on the east side of the valley in 2022, 3,250 acres on the west side in the southern valley in 2023 and 4,000 acres on the western part of the main valley in 2024. Officials noted that, with population growth and new home construction, the Bitterroot has five of Montana's top 10 firesheds with the most wildfire risk.

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The $886,450 Gallatin Valley plan is called the Forest Resiliency and Watershed Health Project. The $1,283,544 Kootenai National Forest project is in Lincoln County and the $841,905 Flathead National Forest project is in the Salish Mountains and Whitefish Range. Two nearby Idaho projects are in the Sawtooth National Forest in Blaine County and in the Idaho panhandle in Bonner County.

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