Congressman Steve Daines Visits Lolo Creek Fire Camp – Comments on Forest Management – Senate Run [AUDIO]
Montana's lone congressman Steve Daines visited the Lolo Creek Complex base camp Friday morning and toured the fire area with U.S. Forest Service officials. Daines is the second member of Montana's congressional delegation to visit the site, as Senator Jon Tester, accompanied by Governor Steve Bullock, visited earlier in the week.
Following his visit, Daines was a guest on KGVO's Talk Back radio show. After praising fire crews for holding the blaze at just over 9,000 acres, he discussed the need for better forest management to prevent more wildfires.
"As for me, I look at it from a business perspective, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure," Daines said. "Part of the solution as we try to reduce the amount of wildfires is better timber management policies. Part of that is going in and thinning out forests and getting in to log again in a responsible manner. When I was growing up in Montana in the '70s and '80s, we used to have 30 sawmills open. But now, timber harvests on federal lands are down over 90 percent, and we're down to only seven mills in Montana. We spent over $120 million dollars fighting fires in Montana last year, and we can reduce that by concentrating on prevention."
Naturally, one of the questions Daines was asked on the program was whether or not he had decided to run in 2016 for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Max Baucus. Daines said that although he fully intends to finish out his term as a congressman, he would be foolish not to consider a run for the Senate.
"First of all, I got elected to serve the people of Montana in the House," Daines said. "Our focus is to continue to serve in the House. However, having said that, yes we're giving the Senate race serious consideration. We've got to. Nobody expected Senator Baucus to suddenly retire, and nobody expected Governor Schweitzer to not get in the race, so we're giving the matter serious consideration. My focus at the moment is to serve the people of Montana in the House."
Daines was also asked about his appointment to several House committees that deal with national security.
"I was honored to be appointed as the vice-chairman on the Homeland Security subcommittee on oversight and government efficiency," Daines said. "The chairman of the overall committee was pleased to see that I bring 28 years of business experience to Washington, D.C. We need to make the government run more like a business and not the other way around. There's just so much opportunity to make government run more efficiently and be a guardian of the taxpayer dollar."
Montana Congressman Steve Daines