You Can Drastically Alter Our Wildfire Risk

Friday May 26, 2023

By Dustin Miller, Director of the Idaho Department of Lands

We know the Smokey Bear saying by heart: Only you can prevent forest fires. But every year, nationally, around 80% of wildfires are caused by humans. That jumps to more than 90% of fires when you look at what the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) has responded to this year. It could be a thrown cigarette, a debris burning pile not carefully watched, a campfire left burning, dragging chains, or parking on dry grass. The list goes on.

There is no room for mistakes when looking to protect our communities and our natural resources from wildfire. The significant precipitation that we received this winter and spring has resulted in a lot of fine fuel growth, and as temperatures rise those fuels dry which increases the risk of wildfire.  

The reminders to prevent wildfires are hard to miss, be it from IDL or our partner agencies. Among them: Make sure your fire is dead out. Don’t drag chains or drive vehicles on dry grass. Be careful when target shooting. Don’t use illegal fireworks. There are too many reminders to include here.

However, despite the abundance of these messages, and the ever-ready online resources, brochures, news reports, social media posts, and pleas to prevent wildfires, human-caused fires still occur in alarming numbers. They outpace lightning-caused fires nearly every year.

So, given all of this, who can reverse this trend? Like Smokey wisely says…Only you can prevent wildfire!

The Idaho Department of Lands is ready for this wildfire season. We have increased our staff and our wildfire resources. We are stationed strategically to aggressively fight fires when they are first reported. We are beginning to use state of the art mountain-top camera technology to help us detect fires even more quickly so that we can decrease our response time. Controlling fires quickly, before they grow, saves valuable natural resources and tax dollars. Last fire season we stopped 92% of fires at 10 acres or less.

We are doing our part to protect Idaho from wildfire. But we need your commitment to help prevent accidental fires. Only you can do your part to prevent wildfire.