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Montana working with communities on regional hazard plans

A woman speaks to a seated group of people at a hazard mitigation workshop in Billings.
Kayla Desroches
Yellowstone Public Radio
Local and state emergency managers gather for a workshop in Billings Friday, April 7, 2023.

State emergency managers are working with communities in western, central and eastern Montana to develop regional hazard mitigation plans intended to help identify and reduce risks, like flood and fire.

Montana Disaster and Emergency Services held workshops with local emergency managers in Billings last week to prioritize mitigation projects and outline goals.

Treasure County DES coordinator Nicole Stephenson said her community’s focus is on finding infrastructure solutions for flooding and updating the wildfire protection plan.

“Looking at the county to determine which areas are at a high risk and what can we do to help mitigate those wildfires in the summer," she said. "Actually, all year round now, it seems, for fires.”

State-guided regional planning is a new approach, said Shari Pool with Montana DES. She says the process puts state resources towards ensuring communities are eligible for grant funding through FEMA, which will ultimately review the plans.

“They have some very specific criteria and guidelines that we have to meet in order to get the plan approved,” Pool said.

She said the plans will be available for public review this summer.

Kayla writes about energy policy, the oil and gas industry and new electricity developments.