Governor Gianforte: Active Forest Management Reduces Wildfire Risk, Fuels Timber Production

Governor's Office
  • May 30 2024

KALISPELL, Mont. – Governor Greg Gianforte this week continued his fourth annual 56 County Tour as governor, visiting Flathead and Powell counties to highlight the importance of active forest management to reduce wildfire risk and fuel the state’s timber industry.

“When a forest is managed properly, we have less severe wildfires, more recreational opportunities, more wildlife habitat, and more jobs,” Gov. Gianforte said. “And as we better manage our lands, we increase timber yields to fuel our wood products industry – it’s a win-win for Montana.”

Pete Seigmund

Gov. Gianforte talking with state forester Pete Seigmund at a forest management project in Kalispell

Touring a Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) fire mitigation project on state school trust lands, the governor received an update on the progress on the site funded by the state’s latest investment in active forest management projects across Montana.

Last spring, the governor signed House Bill 883 into law allocating $60 million over the biennium to significantly increase the pace and scale of management practices that improve forest health, reduce wildfire risk, and increase wildfire preparedness. Over 6,700 acres of forest is set to be managed across the state with funding secured from this allocation.

“What we’re really doing is lowering the potential for an intense fire in here. And then by treating all of the fuels after, we’re really lowering the risk that anything could get going in here at all,” shared Pete Seigmund, a state forester with the DNRC Kalispell unit.

DNRC Kalispell Unit State Trust Lands

DNRC Kalispell Unit State Trust Lands

Since Gov. Gianforte took office, DNRC has shown a steady and significant increase in the pace and scale of forest management. Earlier this year, Gov. Gianforte and DNRC Director Amanda Kaster announced the state placed over 36,000 forested acres under management in 2023, up from 11,000 in 2020 when the governor took office.

During the visit, the governor heard from foresters on the benefits of management for healthier forests and to produce commercial-value timber.

Spotlighting the wood products industry and visiting Sun Mountain Lumber in Deer Lodge yesterday, the governor toured the mill and talked with owners on the legacy of the family business and the importance of forest management to produce timber.

As owner and operator since 1976, Sherm Anderson is in the process of turning over the family-owned forest products company to his grandson, Chris Anderson.

Sun Mountain Lumber Mill

Gov. Gianforte talking with Chris Anderson in the Sun Mountain Lumber mill in Deer Lodge

“Sun Mountain Lumber has been a family business for over twenty years now. It’s important to continue supporting timber industries in the state because if we don’t manage the forests, the forest will manage us and that’s very true for the state of Montana,” Chris said.

He continued, “With so few mills left in the state, we want to continue that legacy.”

As the timber industry navigates ongoing challenges and several recent mill closures, the governor highlighted the importance of supporting the wood products industry and the need for greater certainty from the federal government.

“Of the 23 million acres of forest in Montana, the majority is federally managed by the United States Forest Service. We need greater certainty from our federal management partners to ensure safe communities and to produce timber to keep our mills in production,” Gov. Gianforte added.