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The Ruby Mountain interagency hotshot crew conducts burnout operations during the Dixie Fire. PC: Joe Bradshaw, BLM

Featured Article

Leading the Charge

Combating Wildfires in Idaho and Beyond

Article by Chelsea Chambers

Photography by BLM Staff: Erin Jones, Sarah Beckwith, Suzanne Allman, Colby K. Neal, Jennifer Myslilvy, Joe Bradshaw

Originally published in Meridian Lifestyle

Did you know that there are over 53 million acres of land in Idaho? Comprised of more than 80,000 square miles, Idaho is actually one of the largest states by land area, coming in at number 14 behind Alaska, Texas, Montana, and a few others. The Gem State continues to grow in population, causing urban areas to reach into what was once more rural. But despite this ongoing growth, Idaho’s land remains over 60% public.

In Idaho, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is the primary agency responsible for managing the large and complex wildfire program. According to their website, “They protect over 11 million acres of range and forest land in central and southern Idaho and employ nearly 500 people.”

The BLM’s massive fire program includes efforts in suppression, fuels management, emergency stabilization, rehabilitation, prevention, and community assistance. But there is no one-size-fits-all answer to fire management, and it takes many hands to make the program run effectively. The BLM partners with the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL), the Rangeland Fire Protective Associations (RFPAs), a myriad of other rural and volunteer departments, and a handful of other federal entities.  

“The BLM is a leader in the nation’s management of wildland fire and carries out a broad range of actions to protect the public, natural landscapes, wildlife habitat, recreational areas, and other values and resources,” shares Samantha Storms, Deputy Division Chief of External Affairs for BLM Fire and the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

But their efforts extend much further beyond Idaho’s borders. The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, located primarily in 12 western states and Alaska.

In anticipation of the 2024 fire year, the BLM and other land managers have been taking proactive measures to hopefully alleviate some of the burden of wildfires. One of their primary initiatives has been to reduce vegetation buildup and to educate communities on how they can best manage their land to prevent fires from spreading.

Despite all of the great work organizations like BLM, IDL, and RFPA do to prevent and minimize wildfire impacts, the problem is usually much more close to home. On average, more than 98% of wildfires are human caused. Take these steps to ensure you are not part of the growing wildfire problem.

-          Keep vehicles (including off-highway vehicles) off dry grass.

-          Never throw your cigarette butts out the window or onto the ground.

-          Check weather and drought conditions before you go.

-          Never let fires burn unattended and always ensure it is dead out before you leave the area.

-          Regularly maintain vehicles and equipment.

-          Check tires, bearings, and axles on trailers.

“The 2024 fire year won't be without its share of challenges,” said Storms. “But we are proud of our wildland firefighters and support personnel and the way they respond to wildland fires on public lands.”

For more information on wildfire management and prevention, visit blm.gov/programs/fire.

  • A large plume of smoke from the Spring Creek Fire near Parachute, CO. PC: Erin Jones, BLM
  • The Devil's Canyon annual chainsaw training. PC: Sarah Beckwith, BLM
  • Mock fire training. PC: Suzanne Allman, BLM
  • BLM and the U.S. Forest Service conduct prescribed fire at Pompeys Pillar National Monument. PC: Colby K. Neal, BLM
  • The BLM Midnight Suns hotshot crew stopped by NIFC on their way back to Alaska. PC: Jennifer Myslilvy, BLM
  • The Ruby Mountain interagency hotshot crew monitors the fireline during the Dixie Fire. PC: Joe Bradshaw, BLM
  • The Ruby Mountain interagency hotshot crew conducts burnout operations during the Dixie Fire. PC: Joe Bradshaw, BLM