Idaho Governor Butch Otter pledged to make wildfires on public land a priority in 2013. Now, he's asking for $400,000 for four volunteer fire groups in Idaho. They would make ranchers the first responders to fires that threaten homes and livestock.
"I see great promise in it for us to really not have our natural resource, especially our rangeland and forest savaged by mismanagement," Otter said Monday.
The governor says a combination of mismanagement and neglect by the federal government is to blame for many of the fires on public land.
About a quarter of Idaho’s land base is publicly owned rangeland used by ranchers to feed livestock.
These groups would be allowed to work with the federal government’s firefighters.
Otter’s idea is based on a fire protection district formed by Mountain Home-area ranchers last fall.