Idaho Republican Sen. Mike Crapo, in a guest editorial to be published in several Gem State newspapers this week, points to what he calls a "relentless fire season," which has seen more than 600 fires on federal land this year.
"Homes, property, livestock and pets have been lost. There has been the stress associated with the uncertainty of evacuations and lost tourism revenue," writes Crapo. "There are also longer term effects like the loss or impairment of important wildlife habitat, the release of particulate matter into the atmosphere, the impact to watershed functions or water supplies and even significant releases of carbon dioxide that in bad fire years can be nearly a quarter of total emissions."
To date, more than $90 million has been spent fighting fires in Idaho this year. In particular, the still-burning Trinity Ridge blaze has burned more than 140,000 acres and cost $27.4 million. The Mustang Complex, which has burned more than 280,000 acres, has cost $17.5 million thus far.
Crapo points to the Clearwater Basin Collaborative with the Selway-Bitterroot landscape restoration project as what he calls "an example of the effectiveness of collaborative efforts in natural resources management." Crapo said the project supported 105 full-time and part-time jobs in Fiscal Year 2011. Crapo also references the Healthy Forest Restoration Act and the Forest Landscape Restoration Act to expedite effective land management.