Wildfire season projected to increase two days per year, accordi - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Wildfire season projected to increase two days per year, according to new assessment

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Since 1950, the average temperature across Montana has increased by about three degrees. That's according to the new Montana Climate Assessment released Wednesday by Montana State University. 

And now the question has become: what are industry leaders going to do about it? 

Changing weather patterns is nothing new for Montana, and in general, is an expected phenomenon among farmers, ranchers, researchers and scientists alike. 

But more recently, those folks behind the scenes have taken it upon themselves to not only measure climate change on a local level, but figure out how to take advantage of it moving forward. 

"Developing a new crop variety can sometimes take many years, so knowing more about future climatic conditions will help to fine tune that process," says Lola Raska with Montana Grain Growers Association. Raska, along with other researchers and stakeholders, came together Wednesday in a teleconference discussing the impacts this new assessment could have across Montana. 

Of course in some cases, it will be less of a positive impact. But in other cases, the assessment's findings are hitting even closer to home. 

"We expect moving forward that forests will be vulnerable to fire for a greater portion of the year, and it's been shown that the fire season has increased about two days per year," says Ashley Ballantyne with the Montana Institute on Ecosystems. 

That's a problem some lawmakers are already discussing. Just this past week, Congressman Greg Gianforte held a roundtable, discussing how forest management practices could help relieve the future impacts of a longer wildfire season. 

But scientists behind the assessment say what happens with the information they've presented, isn't in their hands. 

"We aren't trying to influence policy, we're simply trying to present the information as objectively as we could," says Montana State University's Bruce Maxwell. 

MSU's assessment focused only on three sectors: water, forests and agriculture. But moving forward, they hope to expand this research to other sectors. 

To read the full assessment, and for more information about the research behind it, visit here

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