After wildfires burned more than 350,000 acres across Montana in 2015, Senator Jon Tester is pushing Forest Service and Air Force leaders to transfer additional firefighting equipment to the Montana Air National Guard.

In a letter to U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell and Air Force Secretary Deborah James, Tester urged the agency to reassign the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFs) units that are currently used by the Air National Guard’s 145th Airlift Wing in Charlotte, North Carolina, to the Montana Air National Guard’s 120th Airlift Wing in Great Falls.

“Our wildfire seasons are getting more intense and we must be prepared to protect Montana communities from the rapidly growing threat of wildfire,” Tester said.  “By transferring these units to Montana we will ensure folks on the ground can safely and effectively keep us safe.”

In 2015, wildfire related costs consumed more than half of the Forest Service’s budget, shifting resources away from timber harvests, conservation, and recreation.  It is estimated that by 2025, wildfire costs could consume up to two-thirds of the Forest Service budget.