Earlier this month Montana’s Governor Steve Bullock signed a multi-state (Montana, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota and Utah) proclamation designating the month of May as Wildfire Awareness Month. In Montana, events and activities have taken place during this month that encourage residents to prepare their homes and property for future wildfires, prevent human-caused fires and the importance of knowing and practicing emergency evacuation routes and the need to develop a family communication plan.
One recent activity included a tour showcasing a completed cooperative effort in the Bitterroot Valley that demonstrated how a public agency, non-profit group and private landowner can combine their efforts to successfully reduce the risk of a wildfire and the potential loss of property; while also increasing civilian and firefighter safety.
That project site included the thinning and removal of beetle-killed timber which created a healthier forest environment and will help reduce a fire's intensity. Participants in the project included a landowner, the Bitterroot RC&D, the MT Department of Natural Resources and the USDA Forest Service. The work will make a significant difference if a fire happens in the area and brings with it a multitude of direct and in-direct benefits. It's a formula for success that could work well everywhere since fire's behavior is indiscriminate as it crosses multiple property owner boundaries.