Wednesday, September 14, 2011

26 New Fires in Boise National Forest, Still a Low for 2011

Posted By on Wed, Sep 14, 2011 at 3:50 PM

Lightning on Sept. 11 and Sept. 12 sparked 26 new fires in the Boise National Forest. Helicopters quickly air-lifted firefighters to the Silver Creek and Deadwood Reservoir areas, where a majority of the blazes originated.

The Castro Fire on August 26
  • David Olson

"We did get some rain, which helps out immensely in these issues," said David Olson, BNF's public affairs officer. "Bottom line is, none of the fires are causing any containment difficulties," he said.

An additional four fires started on Sept. 13. When Citydesk spoke to Olson, there was only one fire that was still uncontained.

"It’s only 5 to 6 to acres near Prairie, in Elmore County. It's called the Stanley fire—not to be confused with Stanley, Idaho," said Olson. "We’re going after that one because it’s in really heavy fields of brush. There’s a system of high pressure coming in, and we’re concerned about the wind."

The BNF has so far enjoyed a relatively calm year for forest fires. Because of this year's late snow melt, not only did the national forest's campgrounds open late but the ground retained more moisture. On average, 35,000 acres burned per year in the last 10 years. So far this season 4,600 acres have burned. Still officials aren't taking any chances with the Stanley fire.

"We have two 20-person teams on it, a couple engines and even a couple of helicopters," said Olson.

Another blaze is still burning in the forest as well. Dubbed the Castro fire, for the rocky peak it clutches, fire officials are allowing this one to burn—for now.

9-5_Jackson_1701_hrs.jpg

"Lightning is a natural event, and that’s something we focus on a lot. The Boise National Forest is a fire-adapted ecosystem. We’ve had fires here for decades, if not centuries," said Olson.

Lightning in dry months causes fires naturally. The idea, he said, it to let the ecosystem account for those fires with minimal human interaction, a balancing act of natural ecology and human interest. If every fire was extinguished as it cropped up, fields would be lush with fuel for a mega-fire. So they let some go.

"It's 'can we manage fire in a way that’s less intense and less threatening so you can prepare for those drier years?' We now have 4,000 treated acres that have reduced field. If you get a new start that’s right in the middle of that area, it can't spread as fast," said Olson.

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