PhotoTrippingAmerica / Shutterstock

New research published in the journal Nature Climate Change finds that snow is melting earlier – often in the winter. That’s a bad sign for the Mountain West. 

Taylor Berge / Shutterstock

Many oil, gas and coal-dependent communities around the Mountain West are concerned about the Biden administration's aggressive stance on climate change. But a recent survey of hundreds of economists around the world suggests that reducing emissions now will save us financially in the long run. 


A new report could help you analyze wildfire risks to homes in your state, county or community.

Bureau of Land Management

The ever-increasing number of wildfires in the West is sobering. But put the statistics aside and you'll find countless stories of loss and heartbreak.

Whether you get the help you need after a wildfire may depend on how wealthy or White your neighborhood is, a new paper suggests.

Preacher Fire, Wildfires, Blaine County
Blaine County Sheriff's Facebook Page


This year was historic for wildfires. Smoke from western states was detected across the United States and as far as Europe. As climate change continues to worsen our fire seasons, it’s critical to understand how this smoke impacts our health and how to best protect ourselves from this smoke. 

Stuart Palley / U.S Forest Service

Firefighters have long studied how fires behave to figure out where they’re going and how to keep people safe. But wildfires are becoming more unpredictable.


A bipartisan group of Western lawmakers have signed onto a new federal bill that aims to reduce the damages of wildfire.

Sawtooth National Fores

The West is experiencing record-breaking fires this year, and that’s affecting recreationists, including hunters.



J. N. Stuart / Flickr Creative Commons

Large numbers of migratory birds have reportedly dropped dead in New Mexico and Colorado.

There’s still confusion over the deaths, like how many died and what exactly killed them. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service believes the bird deaths in Colorado and New Mexico were caused by an unusual cold front.

Nampa Fire Department

The Nampa Fire Department and the Boise Fire Department have deployed teams throughout the west this wildfire season. Nampa Fire, along with crews from Parma, Kuna and Sand Hollow, fought fires near San Francisco for 23 days. But their work didn’t end there.


Sawtooth National Forest / via Twitter (twitter.com/SawtoothNatlFS)

Fires in Oregon, Washington and California have blanketed the northwest in smoke. We're also six months into the coronavirus pandemic. 

Rachel Cohen/Boise State Public Radio

The Badger Fire south of Twin Falls now covers more than 40,000 acres and is 0% contained.

Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests / InciWeb

The Mountain West has seen plenty of wildfires this year, but nothing like the catastrophic large fires still burning along the West Coast. That's largely thanks to a relatively wet spring.

U.S. Forest Service/inciweb

The Woodhead Fire is the largest of Idaho’s current wildfires. Fire managers told local community members Wednesday night that it’s grown to more than 84,000 acres and is 39% contained.

screenshot / via AirNow


For folks in the fire science world, the smoke that has engulfed most of the western United States is not surprising. As climate change, years of poor forest management and home development practices come to a head, this could be the new normal in the West. But what no one could predict before 2020 was how a global pandemic would exacerbate the health effects of wildfire smoke.


Cian Fenton/ Flickr Creative Commons

Last week, Idaho had mostly clear skies and acceptable air quality. But over the weekend, smoke from major West coast fires started to slink in.

John Locher / AP Images

After starting the week with a promising downward trend in new COVID-19 cases, Idaho saw it's deadliest single day this week. Still, health districts are considering opening bars and schools while downtown Boise is losing a corporate tenant. At the same time, unprecedented wildfires spurred by climate change, poor fire policy and building practices are burning through communities in neighboring Oregon and Washington, providing a cautionary tale to Idaho as smoke moves back into the region.

For days now, wildfire smoke has degraded the air quality in much of the Mountain West, and that unhealthy air is forcing tough decisions for schools that are trying to reopen.


Wildfire, fire fighter
U.S. Forest Service

Many western states are experiencing above average wildfire seasons, with nearly 4 million acres burned so far.