Rangeland Fire Protection Associations
Idaho ranchers provide swift initial attack to rangeland fires because of their knowledge of the land and proximity to the fires.
Before 2012, ranchers were not legally allowed to fight fire and their efforts to try to control wildland fires presented safety concerns for fire managers.
With support from Governor Otter, the Idaho Legislature, and federal and State fire agencies, ranchers now have the avenues to form rangeland fire protection associations (RFPAs) - groups of ranchers professionally trained and legally allowed to utilize interagency fire suppression resources.
Creation of the associations is a collaborative effort between local ranchers, the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL). RFPAs provide the following benefits:
- Take advantage of the quick initial attack the ranchers can provide;
- Satisfy the ranchers' interest to be active participants in protecting the forage needed for their livelihood;
- Satisfy fire managers' safety concerns by ensuring all firefighters are trained and have necessary equipment and communications;
- Support the IDL effort to provide a complete and coordinated approach to fire suppression in Idaho;
- Enhance efforts to protect sage grouse habitat to the benefit of all parties
Idaho RFPA Membership
For the 2015 fire season there were approximately 230 ranchers in southern Idaho that were members of six different RFPAs. For the 2016 fire season, two additional RFPAs are forming and there are two other areas where ranchers have begun to have conversations about starting new associations.
Mountain Home RFPA
540,000 acres protected
1,342,000 acres protected
Saylor Creek RFPA
2,231,000 acres protected
Three Creek RFPA
1,110,000 acres protected
Black Canyon RFPA
190,000 acres protected
Shoshone Basin RFPA
488,000 acres protected
Contributions of Participating Partners
- Ranchers provide initial attack using their own ranch equipment along with equipment acquired through the Federal Excess Personal Property program
- IDL documents and tracks firefighter training records and facilitates equipment acquisition
- BLM provides firefighter training
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service provides support as well as financial assistance with startup funds and specific projects