Many residents were told to leave the typically busy Seeley Swan area because of hazardous smoke levels MTN News photo

MONTANA – To address and help minimize the economic impact of wildfires, Governor Steve Bullock announced a new collaborative effort between state agencies, businesses and communities.

Through the partnerships, a website was launched to help businesses recover from the devastating fire season. The Governor’s office says the website has various programs. Some provide financial assistance such as grants and loans; others provide technical assistance such as business counseling.

One typically busy tourist destination was closed down this summer for firefighting efforts. Seeley Lake was closed for weeks while firefighters used the lake to take water for the fires. The Seely Swan area also saw hazardous air quality levels this summer as a result of the fires causing a major strain on the normally booming summer season.

The state recognizes that some communities have struggled to recover where fire activity and smoke put a damper on businesses, many of which, were already experiencing financial or other difficulties. Many businesses saw fewer customers or suffered property damage.

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“Montana is strong and resilient,” said Governor Bullock. “The tireless work of firefighters and the generous support of volunteers have protected the safety and livelihood of Montanans across the state. As the work continues, we’re putting our best foot forward to ensure our businesses and communities will fully recover from any challenges they’re facing in the aftermath of what has been a long, difficult and expensive fire season.”

The website is a collaboration with the Department of Commerce, Department of Labor & Industry and Disaster and Emergency Services. It consolidates information about programs across all departments of state government as well as partner resources.

Montanans can call 406-841-2770 for live assistance during regular business hours. Staff will help individuals identify which programs may be the most applicable to them based on their specific circumstances. Montanans can also email for support.

The site not only allows business impacted by fires to get the help they need, but also allows other businesses and communities to donate to various charities and fire relief funds across the state.

MTN has teamed up with the Montana Community Foundation and launched a wildfire relief fund if you’d like to donate click here.