Idaho’s Top Elected Officials Ask the Feds to Make Idaho Fire Prevention a Priority

Monday February 7, 2022

(Boise) – Governor Brad Little and Idaho’s top elected officials sent a letter to USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack asking that Idaho’s high risk fireshed landscapes be made a priority under the 10 Year Strategy of Combating the Wildfire Crisis.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the new strategy earlier this month. Through infrastructure funding, nearly $3 billion has been authorized to reduce hazardous fuels and begin to restore America’s forests and grasslands, along with investments in fire-adapted communities and post fire reforestation. Projects will be funded in two phases.

In the letter, the Idaho Board of Land Commissioners (Land Board) pointed out the successful collaborative initiatives already in place with the Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. It noted that other Western states look to Idaho for leadership, emulating Idaho’s successful Shared Stewardship and Good Neighbor Authority programs as a model for improving cross-boundary forest health.

Shovel-ready fuels reduction projects and a robust industry infrastructure here in Idaho were also noted as important elements for considering the state’s request to include its projects in the first phase of funding.

“Mills in Idaho have the capacity to manufacture additional timber into the lumber America needs to support favorable residential housing demand,” said Trevor Stone, Idaho Region Timberlands Manager for PotlatchDeltic. “Thinning overgrown and fire-prone forestland protects Idaho’s valuable natural resources, including private timberlands, and creates good paying jobs that support our communities.”

“Idaho’s forests contribute $2.4 billion each year in finished goods and services to our economy,” said Idaho Forest Group’s Director of Resource and Government Affairs Tom Schultz. “Prioritizing forest health in Idaho benefits both the environment and our economy.”

“It is important to keep our forests healthy and resilient for this generation and many to come,” said Associated Logging Contractors Executive Director Shawn Keough. “Idaho logging contractors are willing and ready to complete additional work to benefit their families and Idaho’s economy.”

The 10 Year Strategy of Combating the Wildfire Crisis offers two phases. The first phase has projects chosen by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB), USDA and Forest Service leadership. Phase 2 projects will come in part from priority projects that have been identified through processes such as Shared Stewardship agreements.

The Land Board made the commitment to work with Secretary Vilsack to set up fuels and forest health treatments to match the formidable scale of Idaho’s wildfire risks.

“We’re leading Idaho and the nation through our No Boundaries Forestry approach, with several Shared Stewardship project in the works,” Governor Brad Little said. “Making Idaho’s high-risk landscapes a priority through this new initiative would enhance work already underway to make Idaho’s communities safer and more fire resilient.”

Read the letter to the Secretary

Read the 10 Year Strategy of Combating the Wildfire Crisis