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Report: ID Wildfire Management Gets Kudos

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September 4, 2008

Boise, ID – New strategies for fighting wildfires in Idaho are paying off. A new report from the Idaho Conservation League says land managers are no longer ordering that all fires be battled, but instead are allowing some to burn, as long as they don't endanger people or property.

Timothy Ingalsbee, with Firefighters United for Safety, Ethics and Ecology, says that strategy allows fire to play its natural ecological role, while saving money.

"It allows firefighters to have the resources on hand and focus their efforts where we really need them to fight fires, mainly around homes and communities."

Even when fires are allowed to burn, adds Ingalsbee, they're still being monitored, and in some cases steered to forest areas that need a fire bath.

"It's managing natural fires to do the work of fuels reduction and forest restoration, almost for free."

The report analyzes fires in 2007, when $260 million was spent on firefighting – a number that would have been at least doubled had every fire been aggressively fought.

Critics of the new strategies are concerned that valuable timber may be damaged if the policies aren’t carefully crafted.

The full report is at www.wildidaho.org.

Deborah Smith/Steve Powers, Public News Service - ID