Zinke talks wildfire, forest management in Belgrade

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle

With the days winding down to the June 7 primary, Republican congressional candidate Ryan Zinke made a stop in Belgrade Sunday to discuss forest management, wildfire and Montana’s place in the upcoming federal farm bill.

Zinke, the former congressman and interior secretary, brought Rep. Glenn Thompson, a Republican from Pennsylvania, to discuss the bill — the last version became law in 2018 under the Trump administration. A new one could appear in 2023.

The pair made a previous stop in Great Falls for a similar discussion focusing on agriculture.

“This is important because when you start building the farm bill, you want to be included in the House and foundation in the beginning,” Zinke said.

The pair held a roundtable discussion with representatives from various organizations and businesses connected to forestry and wildfire at aerial firefighting company Bridger Aerospace’s headquarters.

Participants included representatives from Bridger Aerospace, the Property and Environment Research Center, the Montana Wood Products Association, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Missoula-based Bashoor Land Management and Bozeman-based Wildfire Defense Systems.

Thompson, the ranking Republican member of the House Agriculture Committee, would play a role in shaping the bill, Zinke said.

Zinke said that Thompson could be the next chairman of that committee, which would depend on Republicans regaining the majority in the House.

The Pennsylvania congressman said he came to Montana at Zinke’s request for two reasons: To support the Republican congressional candidate and to include voices from Montana on agriculture and forest management issues.

Zinke said that he has always been an advocate of getting out quickly to deal with wildfires. He said that prescribed burns should be done in shoulder seasons that could help to put “out of control fires” to an end.

Better technology, better decisions on the frontlines of wildfires and an empowered frontline are solutions Zinke offered for dealing with fires.

Thompson said that bureaucratic barriers, regulations and lawsuits stand in the way of forest management.

Just over two weeks remain before the June 7 primary election.

Zinke is running for the Republican nomination for the newly-created western congressional district against Dr. Al Olszewski, Mary Todd, Matt Jette and Mitch Heuer.

Follow this link to read more.