Paying with Fire


Montana is keeping a close eye on $66 million in bills it got from the Forest Service for fire-fighting services, in the wake of a General Accounting Office report which "notes that historically, the Forest Service hasn't been able to provide Congress or the public 'with a clear understanding of what the Forest Service's 30,000 employees accomplish with the approximately $5 billion the agency receives every year.'" Montana State Forester Bob Harrington

said the state won't pay the other firefighting bills until they've been gone over closely by both the state and the federal agency.

"That bill will not be paid until we have the ability to audit a clean summary from them and ensure the charges are appropriate," Harrington said.