U.S. Forest Service

More Of Idaho's Land Goes Wild

Jul 17, 2012
Deb Love / Trust for Public Lands

The Forest Service purchased 80 acres of private land last month along the Salmon River, in an effort to protect wilderness.

The Trust for Public Lands, a national nonprofit organization, helped the Forest Service acquire that land last month.

Northern Rockies Director for the Trust Deb Love says it’s important to buy up private land and protect it as wilderness.  She says doing so helps the Forest Service manage the land without worrying about pockets of private property.

About 300 firefighters have been working to put out Idaho’s largest wildfire burning in the state’s south central desert lands. Twelve aircraft and more than 30 pieces of ground equipment have been used on this blaze. All of these efforts to stop a fire cost millions of dollars. 

At the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise,  big monitors in command central show… cable news, and phones ring sporadically. But a few weeks ago when destructive fires burned in Colorado and around the west, this room was controlled pandemonium as people marshaled firefighting efforts.  

US Facing Air Tanker Shortage

Jul 6, 2012

As wildfires continue to burn here in the West, the US Forest Service is going to battle this summer with fewer air tankers.  The number of planes that drop retardant on fires has shrunk significantly over the last 12 years. 

On a sunny, warm morning at the Boise airport.  A shiny white and green plane slowly pulls onto the red retardant-stained tarmac.  Pilot Lyle Ehalt is returning from a drop over a grass fire near Murphy.

Boise District Bureau of Land Management

Updated 5:15 PM:  There have been 31 area wildfires so far this year, according to spokeswoman Mallory Eils with the Boise District Bureau of Land Management.  That compares to less than a handful at this time for the past three years. She says nearly all the wildfires this year have been caused by people.    

There are no plans to place fire restrictions on public lands yet.  That would take some time given that state and federal agencies such as the BLM, U.S. Forest Service, and Idaho Department of Lands would all have to agree to those restrictions. 

The Forest Service has received funding to buy a few privately owned parcels of land in the northwest. 

The money for the land buys comes from a federal conservation fund, that gets a tiny percent of the royalties from offshore oil drilling.

Debbie Okholm is with the Forest Service. She says more than 15 percent of the land inside national forest boundaries in the northwest is actually owned by other people. So the forest service focuses on acquiring that land.