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Otter films ads promoting fire safety, forest thinning

In a new public service TV ad sponsored by the state Department of Lands and the U.S. Forest Service, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter is shown on a ladder raking pine needles off the roof of his Pine, Idaho cabin, standing on a porch roof pruning low-hanging branches, and more as he urges Idahoans who live in the wildland-urban interface to “get defensive” and reduce wildfire risk to their homes. “Join me in being firewise,” the governor says in the ad. “Learn more at idahofirewise.org.” That website, sponsored by an array of agencies and organizations, is aimed at educating Idahoans about wildfire and promoting “firewise communities.”

The ad was filmed at Otter’s cabin, in an area that was threatened by last summer’s massive Trinity Ridge Fire. Jon Hanian, Otter's press secretary, who was at the filming, said the 71-year-old governor seemed at-ease with the feats he performed, “although he did admit he doesn't like heights.” Hanian said, “He was comfortable - I wasn't. It made me nervous.”

A second ad, which shows a cowboy-hatted, shiny-belt-buckled Otter standing in the forest, advocates more thinning projects in national forests, saying, “From a distance, national forests may look beautiful, but 15 million acres of federal forests in Idaho are overgrown, unhealthy and prone to catastrophic fire. Widfires threaten lives, destroy property and cost taxpayers billions of dollars. They pollute the air we breathe and the water we drink, and they harm wildlife habitat. Reducing fuels is the ONLY thing we can do to change all that. It’s time to thin the threat. Show your support. Learn more at idahoforests.org.”

That’s the website of the Idaho Forest Products Commission, which sponsored the second spot. Both ads are being offered to Idaho TV and radio stations to run during the fire season, to promote wildfire safety and prevention. “Idaho’s fire seasons are getting worse,” Otter said in a statement.  “The PSAs remind Idahoans this is the time to reduce the threat of wildfire by getting defensive about their properties and supporting thinning in dense, overcrowded national forests.” You can see both ads here, under the heading, “For the Media and the Public.”