Posts tagged: firefighting
Idaho Statesman reporter Rocky Barker analyzes the evolution of Gov. Butch Otter's position on firefighting efforts in a column today; you can read it here. Baker reports that when Otter took office in 2007, it was the toughest fire season in Idaho since 1910, and he sharply differed with federal authorities' firefighting approach, calling the rules regulating firefighting “The Don’t Book.” Now, Otter is strongly supporting federal firefighting commanders’ plans for protecting his state in this year's tough fire season. “His support for the plans - putting resources in front of communities, while allowing the fires to burn into wilderness and where past fires have reduced fuels - shows that the West is evolving to accept the new realities of fire,” Barker writes.
The fire season on Idaho state lands so far this year has seen only 48 percent of the 20-year average number of fires, while the acres burned are only 7 percent of the 20-year average, the Idaho state Land Board heard this morning. That's the fourth-fewest number of fires in the last 28 years, and the fifth-fewest acres burned. That was largely because the active fire season was delayed by the cool, wet spring; September is predicted to be warmer and drier than normal, so wildfires could increase. Still, the state is likely to save money on firefighting costs for the year.
As of the close of the state’s fiscal year on July 1, emergency fire suppression costs incurred by the state Department of Lands for the year were $1.95 million. That’s similar to last year’s costs, and is 33 percent of the 20-year average. The number of acres burned was just 12 percent of the 20-year average, at just 31 acres; the average is 253 acres. In fiscal year 2010, there were three lightning-caused fires on state lands and 20 human-caused fires, but only 31 acres burned. The reason: A warm, dry winter was followed by a cool and wet May and June. A report to the state Land Board today said, “Even though early July is predicted to be warmer and drier than normal, the summer is predicted to have normal temperatures with normal rainfall. At this time, the National Interagency Coordination Center is predicting a normal fire season for Idaho.”