You can watch "Living with Wildfire" online at https://video.idahoptv.org/video/living-with-wildfire-bwbwtj/
Wildfires are a natural part of life in Idaho. But, they're becoming more intense. And, for the most part, our typical summer fire season is starting sooner and lasting longer. That has caught the attention of fire and climate experts at the University of Idaho who feel our warming climate is adding fuel to an already dangerous situation.
Air quality in the United States has been steadily improving over the years. The exception is out west where wildfire smoke has become an issue. So, NASA and the National Weather Service partnered with Federal agencies and universities to study the impact wildfire smoke has on the environment. The data they gathered has the potential to help the healthcare industry as it looks to improve outcomes in patients vulnerable to the adverse affects of smoke.
Documenting wildfires is important to the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. And, wildfire photographer Kari Greer is really good at it. She's one of only a handful of still photographers in the country given up close access to document fires and firefighters. Her images are incredible.
Kari says out of all the fire related photos she's taken over the years that it's the people pictures that mean the most to her. Firefighters are like family to her. And, she really wants the public to know, that even though we may not see them at work, that there are "boots on the ground" working hard to keep us safe.
After decades of rushing to put fires out as quickly as possible the Forest Service and the BLM have revisited their fire management techniques. Prescribed burns are being used more in the off-season to help reduce ladder fuels that can cause fires to burn extremely hot.
Wildfires aren't just a problem in the mountains and in the forests. They're also having a profound impact on rangelands because of invasive plant species like Cheatgrass. In 2012 Rangeland Fire Protection Associations became legal in the state of Idaho. That means ranchers and farmers can team up with their neighbors and become certified to fight fires to help protect their livelihood.
It's a problem that's been a long time in the making. Now, it's going to take cooperation between Federal and State agencies and landowners to help find solutions to our new norm...living with wildfire.