This fire policy stuff is more confusing than a person might think. Here’s a new story from the Standard Journal about letting fires burn to save money. But I thought last year, the reason the fire policy came out about being careful to not let fires big and out of control, was also to save money. It seems to me that both can’t be true?
I guess folks need to be able to predict which ones will do fine if watched and which ones might get out of control. Certainly we have read about the latter. I wonder if the Lessons Learned Center or others are compiling information on how well we are doing at predicting.. if our predictions were not so hot (sorry) then letting fires get out of control might not actually be saving money. Plus it might have a domino-like effect from people and material being sent to the large fires, and more other fires are necessarily managed less intensively, necessarily risking that they too will become larger and suddenly take off due to unforeseen events.
Below is an excerpt.
Forest rangers told Madison County Commissioners that the fire suppression policy in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest has changed to a more limited response, even with a big fire season predicted for this summer.
Tracy Hollingshead, Palisades District Ranger for the Forest Service based in Idaho Falls, along with Jay Pence, the district ranger based in Driggs, along with Spencer Johnson of the Eastern Idaho Interagency Fire Center in Swan Valley, introduced a new map of immediate fire suppression areas. These small areas, marked in red on the map, are the only areas the Forest Service will respond immediately to in the event of a fire, which is a change from previous policy.
“Last year we had direction to put every fire out,” Hollingshead said on Monday.
The change came down to funding, they told the county commissioners.
“We definitely have a limited amount to spend,” Hllingshead said.
Red areas in Madison County include small portions of the Big Hole Mountains on the southern border of the county.
If a fire flares up in other areas, it will be dealt with on a conditional basis. Fire agencies will battle forest fires aggressively if the fire nears structures or population, even if it isn’t in a red-marked area on the map. But if the fire doesn’t threaten anything immediately, the fire will be allowed to burn out based on certain conditions.
“Other areas we’ll let burn depending on the time of year, weather and fuel conditions,” Hollingshead said.
Now it seemed like Andy (Stahl) was quoted last year as saying… Here.
Things like this have a tendency to become indelible,” he said. In order to reverse the policy next season, he thinks the Forest Service will have to make the case that budget and weather conditions are significantly different than this year—something he worries might not happen.
Here are a couple of other links to our discussions last year..