Federal and State Agencies Announce Start of 2012 Prescribed Fire Program
BOISE, Idaho – In southwest Idaho this year, the USDA Forest Service, USDI Bureau of Land Management, and the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) plan to ignite prescribed fires on a maximum of 23,205 acres in the spring and 23,570 acres in the fall, for a combined total of 46,775 acres.
The annual prescribed fire program restores the natural and positive effects of fire in select areas and reduces excessive trees and brush that could feed large wildfires.
To provide updated public information for prescribed fires, the agencies have established a prescribed fire hotline at 208-373-4208. In addition, daily planned burns are posted at www.smokemu.org and additional information for each planned project is posted at www.rxfire.com.
The prescribed fires have specific land management objectives. To meet these objectives fire managers ignite them under specific weather, smoke dispersion, and fuel conditions.
The interagency program works closely with rural communities to reduce fire risks, particularly in the Wildland Urban Interface, while meeting the objectives of the National Fire Plan. In conjunction with prescribed fire, fire managers will reduce fuels on 18,353 acres with mechanized equipment.
The IDL uses prescribed fire primarily to meet fuel reduction requirements after logging operations. The federal agencies use it to reduce thick forest vegetation, logging slash and to enhance wildlife habitat.
Federal and state land management agencies that ignite prescribed fires work closely with regulatory agencies to monitor air quality in southern Idaho. They have formed a partnership with their counterparts in northern Idaho and Montana to ensure air quality remains acceptable while controlled burns are underway.
The Montana/Idaho Airshed Group is the partnership that provides a means to limit the accumulation of smoke generated by prescribed fires through scientific monitoring of weather conditions and formal coordination. Plans are submitted to the Montana/Idaho Airshed Group Monitoring Unit in Missoula, Montana before prescribed fires are ignited.
Geographical areas called “airsheds” with similar topography and weather patterns report the prescribed fires. Idaho has 16 airsheds. The monitoring unit reviews weather conditions and determines which prescribed fires managers can ignite and which, if any, are delayed to ensure air quality meets federal and state standards.
“This is a mulit-agency coordination effort and we work very hard to let people know where and when prescribed fires are planned so they can prepare accordingly,” said David Olson, Boise National Forest public affairs officer. “The Montana/Idaho Airshed Group helps ensure federal and state air quality standards are met, and working closely with Idaho DEQ provides the key links to achieve prescribed fire benefits while maintaining acceptable air quality.”
“The Idaho Department of Lands utilizes fire as a management tool to enhance the health and productivity of Idaho’s working lands – our state endowment trust lands,” said Emily Anderson, IDL public information officer. “The department’s land management objectives related to fire are better met through the collective efforts across agencies in the annual prescribed fire program.”
For more information about prescribed fires planned in southwest Idaho, contact offices of the Boise, Sawtooth, Payette National Forests, the BLM Boise District, and/or the IDL Southwest Idaho Forest Protective District.