Governor Steve Bullock’s request of $44 million dollars for State fire suppression costs from last summer’s historically expensive fire season has been denied. According to Montana House appropriations chair Nancy Ballance, the request was based on changing the way FEMA looks at large-scale natural disasters.

“Typically the way FEMA handles these fires, is that every incident is a separate request,” Balance said. “When it is a statewide fire disaster as we had this last time, there are a lot of things we can’t collect, because you can’t attribute it to a very specific fire event. What they were trying to do is convince the federal Government to look at it on a statewide basis.”

Balance says the request was always a longshot and that its rejection won’t create a hole in the state budget.

“Everybody I talked to within DNRC said ‘yeah, we know this was a longshot, that probably won’t happen, but we want to start this conversation about why, it sometimes makes sense to look at it as a statewide event,’” Ballance said.  “If this $44 million had come in, then we would have had to return some.”

Montana has received over ten million dollars from FEMA because of the 2017 fire season, which burned over a million acres and drained the state’s fire suppression fund.