Low-income seniors at the Burnt Fork Manor in Stevensville recently benefited from the gift of ten HEPA filters from the Bitterroot Climate Action Group (BCAG). BCAG, whose mission includes mitigating some of the effects of climate change while supporting local people, recently conducted a fundraiser and was able to budget $1,500 for the effort. BCAG teamed with the District IX Human Resource Council and director Jim Morton to provide the filters to people who have respiratory health challenges.
BCAG treasurer, John Schneeberger, said that BCAG sees this as a start of a campaign to provide relief from the wildfire smoke, a problem that is forecast to increase due to rapid climate change. In June, University of Montana Fire Ecologist Philip Higuera stated in a report to the National Academy of Sciences that “Rocky Mountain subalpine forests are now burning more than at any point in the past 2,000 years.”
“This is not about the distant future,” Schneeberger said. “The Forest Service has confirmed that the Montana fire season is now 78 days longer that it was in the 1970s. I was on a fire crew in Wallace, Idaho in 1978 and was surprised that they would lay off the entire seasonal crew on September 1st. That was considered the end of the major fire season back then. Bitterrooters know all too well that September is an active month for fire now.”
BCAG plans to follow this donation with other actions to benefit the community by planning for, and improving, the local response to climate change.