Wildfires

The omnibus spending bill passed by Congress last month earmarked billions of dollars for fighting wildfires.  Many conservationists and politicians celebrated that change.

But the legislation also rolls rolls back some environmental protections and that has split the conservation community.

For years, Western lawmakers have been trying to change the way we fight wildfires, or at least the way the government funds such work. Now, they may finally get that wish. Congress just passed a measure that would do just that, creating an emergency fund of $20 billion for the Forest Service to fight wildfires over the next decade. It's part of a sweeping new spending deal that the President signed on Friday.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has been pushing for years to make this change.

I’m marching through a stand of blackened, towering pine trees with fire ecologist Philip Higuera. He stops and sniffs the air.

“We can smell the charcoal here,” he says. “You smell that?”

Higuera is a low-key guy with a trimmed beard and sporty sunglasses. But when I ask him whether the massive wildfire that raced across Lolo Peak in Montana last summer was bad, he corrects my choice of words. 

hikinghillman / Flickr

While daytime highs across Idaho flirt with freezing, Los Angeles is parked in the low 80s and getting blown away with gusting Santa Ana winds. The dry heat and sustained windy conditions are primary drivers of the numerous fires engulfing the region.

Claude Paris / Associated Press

A giant passenger jet converted to fight wildfires but grounded by U.S. officials during much of this year's fire season could be aloft much more next year.

NIFC Fire Center Smoke Jumpers
Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The National Interagency Fire Center, based in Boise, is playing an integral role in getting resources to Northern California to fight wildfires there that have claimed more than 20 lives.


Rich Pedroncelli / AP Images

At the same time firefighters work to control the deadly flames in Northern California, a group of western politicians are pushing for a change in how these efforts are funded.


Brad Washa / Boise National Forest

After a record breaking, expensive year to fight wildfires, the U.S. Forest Service may just get some of that money back to help prevent future burns.

Elk Complex, wildfire
Ashley Smith / Times-News

Wildfires across the country this year have charred millions of acres, threatened homes and burned cultural landmarks. They've also set a record.

 

ITD

Wildfires in the west have become more common and gobble up more acres of land than in the past – but charred homes and forests may not be the only damage left behind. Waterways may also be at risk.

inciweb

Idaho's largest wildfire is burning entirely within a rugged central Idaho wilderness area and being allowed to play its natural role.

Officials on Wednesday say the 110-square-mile wildfire in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness is burning grass and brush in lower areas and ponderosa pine and Douglas fir at higher elevations.

Officials say they have plans in place to protect bridges, a ranch, a guard station and other high-value sites that could be threatened.

The backcountry Chamberlain Airstrip remains closed due to the lightning-caused fire.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

The entire state of Idaho is under an air quality advisory - thanks to smoke from wildfires – for the first time since August of 2015.


Ringo H.W. Chiu / AP Images

For the first time in two years, active duty soldiers have been mobilized to fight wildfires in the West. Two hundred military personnel are heading to battle the Umpqua North Complex. The 47-square mile wildfire is burning in the southwest corner of Oregon.

 

Kim Smolt / U.S. Forest Service

Wildfires are raging across the American West, prompting national fire managers to put the country on the highest alert possible.

 


inciweb.gov

Three big fires raged across the Bureau of Land Management’s Twin Falls District this week.

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