State agency looks to more logging, improved forest health

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HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Montana's forestry agency is working with federal, local and private organizations to increase logging on national forests to improve forest health and decrease the risk of disease and catastrophic fires.

State lawmakers are supporting a $2.2 million request from the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to hire people to help implement the Good Neighbor Authority program.

Forestry Division Administrator Sonya Germann says Montana's forestlands are deteriorating due to insects and disease, and fire seasons are longer and more severe. She says poor forest health impacts drinking and irrigation water, recreational assets and fish and wildlife habitat.

The Good Neighbor Authority allows the DNRC to use state contracting procedures to offer timber sales in national forests, with some of the proceeds being used to treat diseased trees or improve fish or wildlife habitat.

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