Idaho Closer To Realizing Citizen Rangeland Firefighters

Feb 20, 2013

An Idaho legislative committee Tuesday approved a bill to encourage teams of ranchers who would volunteer to fight rangeland fires. EarthFix reporter Aaron Kunz explains.

Firefighters spraying water on a fire burning in Idaho.
Firefighters spraying water on a fire burning in Idaho.
Credit Photo by Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

 

   The first rangeland fire protection association in Idaho formed a year ago in Mountain Home. It allows ranchers to help fight fires alongside firefighters with the Bureau of Land Management.

David Groeschl with the Idaho Department of Lands told lawmakers they could help launch more of these associations by granting them non-profit status.

Groeschl: “I think the ranchers and the BLM are seeing the mutual benefit of being able to cooperatively work together in safe manner.”

Giving these associations non-profit status would make it easier to set them up. And it frees them to use certain equipment, raise funds, and get government training.

The Mountain Home association allows farmers to use their own heavy equipment to ward off rangeland fires. It helps them protect their own land and to work and communicate with BLM firefighters.

Idaho Governor Butch Otter is hoping to give these associations some startup capital. He’s asking lawmakers to approve $400,000 dollars to help pay for training, equipment and radios.

Copyright 2013 Northwest Public Radio