Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Ranchers accuse federal government of burning $9 million in property

Two ranches in Western Montana claim they’re owed nearly $9 million because the federal government burned their rangeland while trying to control a wildfire. McDonough Family Land and Ingersoll Ranch of Wolf Creek, Mont., have filed a lawsuit accusing the U.S. Forest Service of intentionally igniting their property for “burnout and backfiring operations” to steer the spread of the 2017 Alice Creek Fire. Such techniques allow firefighters to burn fuels to alter the wildfire’s path and reduce its intensity along containment lines. The wildfire was started by a lightning storm in late July 2017 and the Forest Service used these methods on the affected properties more than a month later, the complaint said. If not for the agency’s activities, “the ranches would have suffered no material or substantial damage as a result of the naturally ignited Alice Creek Fire,” according to the lawsuit. Though the backfire and burnout operations were intended to affect the direction and rate of the wildfire’s spread, the plaintiffs claim the Forest Service had “safe and effective alternatives” to suppress the fire. “Instead it chose to manage the Alice Creek Fire with land management goals primarily in mind rather than fire suppression,” the complaint alleges...MORE

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