Discovering Montana

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For Immediate Release - September 15, 2000
Anastasia Burton
(406) 444-3111
Karen Deike / WGA
(303) 623-9378

Western Governors, Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior to Meet on Wildfires

The Secretaries of Agriculture and Interior will meet with Western governors Monday in Salt Lake City to discuss immediate firefighting needs, future strategies to help communities recover from the fires, and long range goals to help minimize the threat of fires in the years ahead.

The Western Governors' Association requested a meeting with the secretaries last week. WGA Chairman, Gov. Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho, is expected to be joined by Govs. Marc Racicot, Mont.; John Kitzhaber, Ore.; Bill Janklow, S.D.; Mike Leavitt, Utah; and Jim Geringer, Wyo. They will meet with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman and Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt at 11 a.m.(MDT) at the Governor's Mansion. Other governors may join the meeting through a conference call.

"We plan to discuss not only our most immediate needs related to the recovery of forest and rangeland destroyed by this year's catastrophic wildfires, but also long-term strategies to prevent future wildfires," Gov. Kempthorne said. "We look forward to a productive meeting that will lead to working partnerships among state, federal, and local governments."

The Western Governors' Association has identified three primary issues that need to be addressed in the aftermath:

Govs. Racicot and Kitzhaber have taken a lead role in working with the administration on behalf of WGA. Gov. Racicot said he believes there is a lot of potential for agreement, but it is critical that states, Congress and the Administration work together "to get the necessary appropriations in the coming weeks that will support vital, on-the-ground recovery efforts."

Gov. John Kitzhaber of Oregon commented: "We need to work in a very inclusive manner to gain public support for improving the health of these forest ecosystems. There is reasonably broad scientific agreement on ways to use active management to restore these forests and make them more resistant to catastrophic fire."

Related WGA policy resolutions are available on the Web at

The Western Governors' Association is an independent, nonprofit organization representing the governors of 18 states, American Samoa, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands. Through their association, the Western governors identify and address key policy and governance issues in natural resources, the environment, human services, economic development, international relations, and public management.


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