Mel Meier / InciWeb

Federal officials say they lost a prime opportunity to rehabilitate and reseed areas burned over the summer by wildfires because of the partial government shutdown.

Workers for the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management returned to work Thursday after a 16-day lay-off.

Zeke Robinson

The Oregon Trail passed through Idaho for hundreds of miles 150 years ago. In some places you can still see the ruts from the wagons that brought people west.

Last week archaeologist Suzann Henrikson drove a local historian and a local Boy Scout leader out to see a well-preserved part of the trail near the Snake River. Henrikson works for the Bureau of Land Management in Burley. She and her guests found something unexpected.

“Hundreds and hundreds of holes dug directly in the corridor of the trail, the ruts themselves. It’s just ghastly,” Henrikson says.

Trees, Forests
Boise State Public Radio

A group of Idaho lawmakers gathers tomorrow at the Statehouse to begin weighing whether the federal government should transfer public lands to the state to manage.  The all-day meeting will include presentations from Boise National Forest Supervisor Cecilia Seesholtz, Deputy Attorney General Steve Strack and State Forester David Groeschl. He's with the Idaho Department of lands.

BLM, land, outdoors
Pete Zimosky / Idaho Statesman

Idaho’s state director for the Bureau of Land Management is now running the daily operations for the entire federal agency. Steve Ellis is in Washington D.C. temporarily serving as acting deputy director. 

It’s a job he did for a few weeks back in 2011. This time around, Ellis will be in the agency’s number two position until November.

His temporary home is an apartment in Arlington, VA., far away from his family and horses back in Boise. “I’ve had to get used to taking the subway to work again,” he chuckles over the phone in a recent interview.

Bureau of Land Management Idaho

It’s the last day of July, and Idaho’s wildfire season is keeping land managers busy. There are currently seven large fires burning in the state.

Jessica Gardetto is with the Bureau of Land Management Idaho office. She says that compared to last year’s record-breaking fire season, Idaho’s rangeland fire picture looks normal.

Officials in Ketchum say private supporters of a proposed whitewater park will pay for an environmental assessment on a possible transfer of federal land. That land is needed before the project can move forward. 

Ketchum Parks and Recreation Department Director Jennifer Smith told city councilors last week that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has listed the city's land transfer request as a low priority. Because of budget restraints, the agency won't complete a review in less than three years.


It’s been a busy afternoon and evening for firefighters in southwestern Idaho.  Several new fires have threatened structures in the region.  It’s not clear if any have actually burned.

A brush fire has spread quickly near Pole Gulch north of Blacks Creek southeast of Boise. It started late this afternoon and is burning grass and sage.  The Bureau of Land Management says it has ordered two 20-person crews to the site, as well as four engines, two dozers and aerial support.  The fire is south of Lucky Peak.  At 7:30 PM, the BLM estimated the size of the Pole Fire to be 700 acres. 

Humans Caused Most Fires Around Boise So Far

Jul 26, 2012
Mallory Eils / BLM

A total of 80 fires have burned on the Boise District of the Bureau of Land Management this year. Malloy Eils of the BLM says 61 of those have been caused by humans.

This ratio is pretty normal. Seventy-five-percent of fires in a season are usually human caused. Eils says what’s been on the rise, though, is the number of fires. She says it’s because of extra dry conditions.

Fire Moves Fast Near Horseshoe Bend, Homes Threatened

Jul 19, 2012

Update 7:35 p.m. – A BLM spokesperson says the threat of damage to homes near highway 55 and the old Horseshoe Bend Road is greatly reduced. Five fire engines that responded from the cities of Eagle and Horseshoe Bend are being sent home. However the fire won’t be contained for at least 24 hours. That means it could flare up again and spread. BLM crews will continue to work on hot spots through the night.

Bill Volk Planning and Environmental Coordinator / BLM PFO

The Bureau of Land Management and a slew of other agencies are restricting campfires and smoking in South Central Idaho.  Stage One Fire Restrictions start Monday. 

Treasure Valley Students Fired Up About Science

Jun 21, 2012
Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Friday two dozen high school students from the Treasure Valley will present research they’ve done as part of a summer science program. Their research helps government agencies make wildfire decisions.

Bailey Maier displays a poster featuring maps of the World Center for Birds of Prey. They show what plants grow where. Maier points to one map heavily shaded in red. It’s cheatgrass she says. The red is where the invasive weed grows in heavy concentration.

Mountain Home Fire Burns Six Houses

Jun 19, 2012
Mallory Eils / BLM

The Bureau of Land Management says a wildfire burned six homes last night in a neighborhood located on the edge of Mountain Home.  Crews will remain on the scene throughout the day.  The fire has not yet been determined fully contained.  

The fire started around 7:30 PM on the southwest side of the city.  It was spread quickly by strong winds.  No injuries were reported.

Wildfire Near Murphy Burns Nearly 9,000 Acres

Jun 14, 2012

3:57 PM Update:  A spokeswoman for the Boise District Bureau of Land Management says they hope to contain the Con Shea wildfire near Murphy by noon Friday.

“Things for the most part are looking really good right now,” according to Mallory Eils. 

Two hundred firefighters with equipment that includes rigs, bulldozers, air tankers, and helicopters are out controlling the blaze.

10:30 AM:  The Con Shea wildfire started overnight 4 miles north of Murphy.  Since then it’s grown to nearly 10,000 acres. 

O'BrienDigital / Flickr

Two grass fires that burned south of Kuna Sunday were sparked by gunfire.  Both fires were contained by Sunday night and both burned on public land. 

Mallory Eils is a fire information officer for the Boise District Bureau of Land Management.  She says the Kave Fire and the Poen Fire were the result of gunshots.  “Someone was probably out doing some target practice and shooting something that resulted in a spark or maybe an exploding target is a common thing that people shoot at and because of the dry fuel conditions out there a wildfire resulted.”