HELENA, Mont. -

Gov. Steve Bullock has identified more than 5.1 million acres of national forest land in Montana as top priorities for restoration.

The Democrat said Monday the forest areas he picked are declining in health, have a risk of increased tree deaths or pose a risk to public infrastructure or safety.

The farm bill passed by Congress this year allows governors to nominate forest restoration priorities. Bullock says his aim in nominating 8,000 square miles from northwestern to south-central Montana is to increase the pace and scale of restoration and strengthen the role of citizen collaborative groups.

The priority areas include parts of the Kootenai, Lolo, Flathead, Helena, Bitterroot, Custer, Gallatin and Lewis and Clark national forests.

The nominations go to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for consideration.