Rep. George Eskridge, R-Dover, questioned whether expanding Idaho’s smoke-management program statewide would mean funding being funneled away from the North Idaho program. The program, which requires farmers to register their fields in advance of field-burning and to burn only when weather conditions are favorable, now applies only to the 10 northernmost counties in the state. Legislation that’s up for a hearing Wednesday in a House committee would expand the program statewide.
State Agriculture Director Pat Takasugi said the North Idaho program won’t be affected. “Many of your constituents in the north are very anxious about the possibility of expanding the smoke management program to the south. We’ve reassured them that the monies that are collected from the 10 northern counties will be … used in the north,” Takasugi told the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. Because the North Idaho program already is established and the southern Idaho program would just be starting, “It will function as two different programs to start,” Takasugi said. Later, once the southern program is up and running, the two would “mesh,” he said.