2013 Wildfire Season
5:04 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

Idaho Forests Expected To Burn This Year While Grasslands Will Get A Reprieve

Ed Delgado is with the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

If you live in southern Idaho you likely won't see the catastrophic fires the area experienced last year.

State and federal agencies came together to give predictions Tuesday on what the state's wildfire outlook this summer could be like. 

Ed Delgado manages predictive services at the National Interagency Fire Center.  He says there’s a big difference between fires expected in the mountains and those in the desert this year.

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Wildfire Preparation
11:04 am
Mon May 20, 2013

How The Idaho National Lab Prepares For Wildfire Season

Credit Brad Washa / Boise National Forest

Fire fighters at the Idaho National Laboratory are preparing for an intense wildfire season. Under the U.S. Department of Energy, the INL has its own fire department.

Eric Gosswiller is the site’s fire chief. He says a lack of snowpack in eastern Idaho means his department needs to be ready for fires. But he says that’s something his department has gotten used to.

“Down here at the high desert at the INL – we kind of have the potential for significant fires every year,” says Gosswiller.

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2:03 pm
Mon May 13, 2013

Budget Cuts, High Fire Potential Could Mean Tough Wildfire Season In the West

The Springs Fire burned more than 6,000 acres near Garden Valley, Idaho last summer
Credit Kari Greer / Boise National Forest

The Secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior came to Boise today to talk about the upcoming fire season.  They said above normal fire potential and less money in the budget will make for a difficult fire season in the West.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack described the wildfire outlook this way:  “We’re going to be faced with a difficult fire season, make no mistake about that.”

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8:53 am
Mon May 13, 2013

Study: Grazing Helps Invasive Cheatgrass To Flourish

The invasive plant Cheatgrass can increase the frequency and severity of range and fires. A new study out of Oregon State University suggests that overgrazing could be helping an invasive grass to flourish.
Credit PNNL - Pacific Northwest National Laboratory / Flickr Creative Commons

A new study out of Oregon State University suggests that overgrazing could be helping an invasive grass to flourish. That differs from previous studies that have found grazing can better manage that plant — cheatgrass — which threatens rangeland habitat.

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7:51 am
Tue May 7, 2013

Northwest Fire Season Predicted To Be A Scorcher This Year

Zane Brown InciWeb

Originally published on Mon May 6, 2013 6:05 pm

Several forest fires are already burning in Western Washington and crews are mopping up a big one in central Oregon. There were also two grass fires that burned near Middleton, Idaho just west of Boise, this past weekend.

Dry winds and above average temperatures predicted this summer and fall, have fire managers preparing for an earlier than usual season.

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Wildfire Prediction
3:11 pm
Mon May 6, 2013

Wildfire Managers Prepare For An Active Season In Idaho

Credit Brad Washa / Boise National Forest

Firefighters continue to battle a large blaze in southern California that started last week. At its most dangerous, the wildfire threatened about 4,000 homes and has moved quickly in the dry and windy conditions.

In Idaho, the National Interagency Fire Center predicts a slightly milder – but still above average – fire season.

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6:00 am
Fri March 22, 2013

Spray Now To Reduce Highway Fires This Summer In Idaho

Wildfire along I-84 in July of last year.
Credit Idaho Transportation Department

A new program to spray along Interstate 84 ahead of wildfire season is aimed at reducing fires and costs.

Last year, 16 fires started along I-84 between milepost 60 and 110.  Those fires burned more than 5,000 acres. The Bureau of Land Management spent more than $280,000 to fight them.  That doesn’t include what other agencies spent helping to put those fires out.

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3:11 pm
Fri March 8, 2013

U.S. Forest Service Moves Away From "Fight All Fire" Policy

Trinity Ridge Fire
Credit Boise National Forest

The U-S Forest Service is reversing its policy to aggressively fight all wildfires. This change was announced in a letter from Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell last month.

In May 2012, Forest Service Deputy Chief Jim Hubbard issued a "fight all fire" directive. This may be why the feds spent more than $1 billion fighting fires last year. They came in $400 million over budget.

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2:21 pm
Fri March 1, 2013

Half Of Firefighters' Requests For Air Tankers Last Year Went Unfilled

An air tanker sits on the tarmac of the Boise airport in June 2012. The U.S. government borrowed the Canadian plane and crew to help fight wildfires.
Credit Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise has released aviation figures for the 2012 fire season.  The numbers show that about half of the calls for air tankers to assist in fighting wildfires last summer went unfilled.

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10:51 am
Fri March 1, 2013

Idaho Rangeland Budget Approved By Committee

Credit Aaron Kunz

Idaho ranchers looking to help fight rangeland fires near their homes received a funding nod from lawmakers this Thursday.

The Idaho Budget committee unanimously approved $400-thousand dollars for more volunteer rangeland fire protection associations. The money was requested by Governor Butch Otter in January.

Idaho currently has one fire association, in Mountain Home. Three more are proposed for Owyhee, Elmore, and Twin Falls counties. Graig Glazier is with the Idaho Department of Lands. He says that’s a good start.

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2013 Legislature
11:38 am
Wed February 20, 2013

Idaho Closer To Enlisting Help From Citizen Rangeland Firefighters

Firefighters spray water on a fire burning in Idaho.
Credit Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

An Idaho legislative committee Tuesday approved a bill to encourage teams of ranchers who would volunteer to fight rangeland fires. 

The first rangeland fire protection association in Idaho formed a year ago in Mountain Home. It allows ranchers to help fight fires alongside firefighters with the Bureau of Land Management.

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Wildfire Safety
10:56 am
Sat February 16, 2013

Forest Service Gives Different Picture Of Idaho Firefighter’s Death

Credit U.S. Forest Service

The U.S. Forest Service says the death of a 20-year-old firefighter in Idaho last summer was a “chance” occurrence. The new report is in sharp contrast to the findings of federal workplace safety investigators.  

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Wildfire Safety
9:19 pm
Tue February 12, 2013

Inspectors Find Unsafe Conditions Led To Firefighter's Death

Anne Veseth, 20, died fighting a wildfire in Idaho in August 2012.
Credit U.S. Forest Service

Wildland firefighting has always been dangerous but new standards in the last few decades have made fatalities rare. So it was news when a 20-year-old wildland firefighter was killed six months ago in northwest Idaho. Now several government investigations into the death of Anne Veseth are coming out. The first one finds Veseth died under hazardous conditions that could have been avoided. 

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Cilmate Change
11:37 am
Fri February 8, 2013

Report: Forest Managers Need To Account For Climate Change

Credit Brad Washa / Boise National Forest

A new report says climate change will be a growing factor in the way America's forests are managed.  The research is from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  It predicts the number of acres burned in a typical fire season could double in the next quarter century. 

To find out more, we spoke with the Forest Service’s Climate Change Advisor, Dave Cleaves.  He says weather is changing and forest managers must adapt.

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9:35 am
Wed January 9, 2013

Idaho's Governor Supports Creation of New Volunteer Fire Districts

Credit Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

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.

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5:03 pm
Tue January 8, 2013

Southeast Oregon Ranchers Still Waiting For Aid, Six Months After Massive Fire

Credit Washington DNR

Six months ago today, a lightning strike ignited one of the largest fires in Oregon’s history. Ranchers who lost cattle and grazing land still haven’t received federal disaster aid.

The Long Draw Fire killed more than 100 cows and calves. And it left federal range land in Southeast Oregon blackened and off limits to grazing for two years.

Rancher Richard Eiguren says that after the fire, it’s costing him five times as much to buy grass and hay to feed his herd.

He says friends and family have struggled to find any suitable land for their animals.

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Winter forecast
6:30 am
Mon October 22, 2012

Will Idaho See More Or Less Rain And Snow This Winter?

Idaho snowpack levels in January, 2012.
Ron Abramovich National Resources Conservation Service

Recent rain has provided some much-needed relief from the dry conditions Idaho has experienced this year.

According to water supply specialist Ron Abramovich, the rain has gone a long way in ending the wildfire season.

“What it did was put a damper on the fire season finally," says Abramovich, who monitors water levels for the National Resources Conservation Service in Boise. "Too bad it didn’t come in September because it would have helped out a lot more then.”

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6:00 am
Mon October 15, 2012

Wildfire Air Tanker Base In Boise Closes For The Season

A plane makes a drop on the Springs Fire.
Kari Greer Boise National Forest

Wildfires around Idaho kept air tanker bases around the state busy. Airplanes dropped more than a million gallons of fire retardant on fires this year.

The Boise Air Tanker Base is one of seven such bases in Idaho.  Les Dixon manages the Boise base. The job there is to load airplanes up with fire retardant and send them out to the front line of the wildfires.  “Our base alone, we’ve done 1,500,000 gallons for a total, we’ve done 752 loads have been flown out of the Boise base.”

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Burned Power Lines
4:12 pm
Tue October 9, 2012

Idaho Power Spends $6 Million On Repairs

Credit Christopher Sebela / Flickr

Wildfires and wind storms kept Idaho Power’s repair crews busy this summer. More than 800 structures were in the path of fires, but only 45 poles were actually destroyed.

Spokesperson Lynette Berriochoa says that maintenance crews clear vegetation around the poles before fire season begins.

“So as a result, when those fires move through, some of the fires move right around those wood poles and they were spared," says Berriochoa.

But Idaho Power still has a big bill to pick up after this summer’s damage.

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9:20 am
Tue October 2, 2012

Northwest Smoke: In Some Areas Experts Say It’s Worse Than L.A.’s Air

Vince Patton OPB

About a dozen wildfires are still burning in the Northwest keeping the air hazy and unhealthy. But experts predict few, if any, long-term health effects.

Matthew Kadlec is a toxicologist for Washington’s Department of Ecology. He says the wildfire smoke in much of the Northwest isn’t enough to worry most healthy adults. But in many areas there is concern for seniors, children and people who have asthma or illnesses.

In fact, Kadlec says in Wenatchee the smoke particulates are worse than a certain sprawling California city.

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