US Forest Service

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It was yet another expensive wildfire-fighting season, but early estimates indicate it won't be as spendy as some others in recent memory. Forest Service spokesman Larry Chambers says preliminary estimates show the Forest Service went $200 million over budget this season. Congress authorized the agency to spend $995 million on fire suppression this fiscal year.  That's compared to about $3 billion in recent years. Forest Service Region One spokeswoman Heather Noel says we were lucky this year.

“Firewise” by Monte Dolack used by permission via Headwaters Economics

It’s estimated that at least 30 percent of the money the Forest Service and BLM spend on wildfires is spent to protect private property, like homes on the edge of public lands.

A new report from Headwaters Economics in Bozeman offers strategies to keep that number from growing.

Ray Rasker is Headwaters’ executive director, he spoke with Eric Whitney about the non-profit group's new report.

USDA

Federal agencies will be spending $865,000 dollars to help restore Helena’s primary watershed. 

The Ten-Mile watershed lies just southwest of the Capitol city and provides 80 percent of the community’s drinking water. 

The restoration is one of 13 projects across the country announced this week by the US Department of Agriculture, in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service.

USDA Under Secretary for Natural Resources and the Environment Robert Bonnie unveiled the $30 million dollar partnership in Helena.