Nature is one of Montana’s greatest treasures, and wildfire occurs each summer only because we’re so fortunate to live amid millions of acres of unspoiled forests and prairies. Although wildfire plays a natural role in ecology, there’s no doubt it can also be devastating to our health, safety, property and livelihood. That’s why it’s so important to do everything possible to minimize its impacts.
It starts with prevention. We should be aware of fire restrictions before we go camping, and if it’s safe to build a fire, we should do so responsibly. Sometimes wildfire can’t be prevented, in which case air quality may be a concern. Fortunately the Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Public Health and Human Services have prepared resources to help the public make informed decisions to protect their health during poor air quality events. These agencies provide resources like Today’s Air at http://svc.mt.gov/deq/todaysair/.
Another way to help minimize the economic impacts of wildfire is to be aware of how we’re talking about it.
To help, we’ve set up a website at travelaware.mt.gov. It features all the information residents and travelers alike should know to be healthy and safe while still having a great time and supporting our Main Street businesses.
Pam Haxby-Cote is the Director of the Montana Department of Commerce, Tom Livers is the director of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality and Sheila Hogan is the director of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.