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Idaho to receive funds to prevent wildfires in the Nez Perce-Clearwater Lower Salmon area

A fire burns in a forest full of green trees with white and grey smoking filling the top left of the photo.
NPS Climate Change Response

The National Forest Service will receive $490 million to prevent catastrophic wildfires across 11 fire prone landscapes.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced the funds will go towards the protection of around 45 million acres across Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

In Idaho, 1.5 million acres will be targeted in the Nez Perce-Clearwater Lower Salmon area. Vilsack said the money will go to preventative measures in high-risk landscapes.

“By working on them, essentially, you create a circumstance that should there be a fire, you minimize the risk of the fire getting to a point where it risks community or critical infrastructure,” Vilsack said at a press call.

This initiative focuses on 134 of the 250 highest-risk firesheds in the country. The types of fuel reduction treatments used will depend on the area targeted.

“There are basically three ways in which we affect treatment and each landscape is different and unique in its own needs, Vilsack said. "There's prescribed fire, there is a mechanical thinning, and then there is a sort of biomass removal activities. So it could be a combination of all three.”

“This, of course, is in addition to the reforestation efforts that are underway to plant additional trees, in addition to the emergency repair work that we're doing from communities that have been devastated by fire,” he added.

Vilsack says the investment will help protect underserved communities, tribal lands and critical infrastructure like power lines, dams, military facilities and public water sources. He added they would also look into ways to protect old growth and preserve existing habitats.

As the Canyon County reporter, I cover the Latina/o/x communities and agricultural hub of the Treasure Valley. I’m super invested in local journalism and social equity, and very grateful to be working in Idaho.

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