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BLM, INL prepare for fire season

Local fire management officers are preparing for an above average fire season this year.

Wildfires have a huge impact on lands across the Gem State every year. Over the last 10 years, wildfires have burned more than 790,000 acres in southeast Idaho.

On Thursday, Idaho National Laboratory and Bureau of Land Management fire officials discussed what to expect this coming fire season, including communications, operational strategies, mutual aid agreements and critically important sage grouse protection.

“The secretary of the interior (Sally Jewell) recently issued a new directive that establishes sage grouse habitat as one of the top priorities for the West,” said Eric Gosswiller, INL fire chief. “And with that are a number of initiatives that include responding more aggressively to the fires, more collaboration with different agencies. What that means in terms of response resources, if we have a lot of fires activity in our region, we have a lot of valuable sage grouse habitat. The chances are we’ll have priority to get some additional response resources, including aircraft.”

Thanks to the rainfall and cooler temperatures in May, the start of the fire season has moved back to a more seasonal beginning. But there is more grass growing now out at the site, so it will have to be watched carefully to avoid having more fuel for fire season.

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