MISSOULA, MT — Today, a broad coalition of communities and landholders affected by wildfire filed an amicus brief supporting the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) in a lawsuit brought last year by Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics (FSEEE) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana. The brief, filed in opposition to FSEEE’s motion to summary judgment, highlights the importance and efficacy of aerial fire retardant. The parties are calling on the Court not to enjoin the use of fire retardant given its importance to combat increasingly devastating wildfires in the West, while the USFS advances its application for a Clean Water Act permit.
“The use of fire retardant can make the difference between life and death, or whether communities and private property are saved or engulfed in flames. Aerial fire retardants are one of the most critical tools in fighting wildfires. The loss of that important tool would jeopardize the carefully coordinated system of wildfire response among federal, state, and local governments across the country, putting both firefighter and civilian lives and property at risk. We urge the court to seriously consider the dangerous ripple effects we would face without aerial fire retardants,” Matt Dias of the California Forestry Association said.
On March 9, the California Forestry Association joined the Town of Paradise, California, which was devastated in the 2018 Camp Fire; Butte and Plumas counties, California; Rural County Representatives of California; American Forest Resource Council; National Alliance of Forest Owners; Federal Forest Resource Coalition; Montana Wood Products Association; Oregon Forest Industry Council; Washington Forest Protection Association; California Farm Bureau Federation; National Wildfire Suppression Association; and California Women for Agriculture in petitioning the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana to join the case brought in October 2022 by Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics.
On March 31, the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana granted the coalition the right to file an amicus brief and participate in the upcoming oral arguments on the summary judgment motion.