Science-based solutions needed to address wildfires

With the wildfire season concluded it is time to learn lessons about the challenging fire risks presented by our public landscape. A century of fire suppression means opportunities exist for stewardship logging and controlled burns to reduce fuel loads but a more comprehensive response is needed.

Scientist know reducing wildfire risk includes finding solutions to climate change. Montana State University and University of Montana scientists released the first Montana Climate Assessment that should alarm us. Montana’s average annual temperature is up more than two degrees and rising. Snowpack is down. Spring runoff is two weeks earlier. Late summer moisture is down. The result is longer fire seasons with more devastating fires. These conditions will persist and worsen as the world’s temperature rises.

The solutions to climate change will take decades to fully implement. It is time for us to seriously evaluate and implement responses. Thank you Senator Tester for engaging climate as an issue in the response to this wildfire season.

Unfortunately Senator Daines refuses to acknowledge climate as an issue. Instead he is using fire concerns as a wedge for reducing public participation in forest management. Now is the time for comprehensive science-based solutions, not political posturing.

-- Chris Marchion, Anaconda

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