Letters From the West

Jewell, Vilsack plan visit to Boise to talk about fire

Sally Jewell

Sally Jewell

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell will make her first visit to the National Interagency Fire Center with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Monday.

The two landlords for most of the West’s public lands will meet with the press to talk about the upcoming fire season and outline the federal government’s efforts to work with state and local governments to protect Americans from wildfire. They will ask people to help prevent wildfires while preparing for fire season.

Tom Vilsack

Tom Vilsack

Vilsack, who is in charge of the U.S. Forest Service, has been to NIFC several times since he became Ag secretary in 2009. Jewell, who is in charge of lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, was only confirmed a month ago.

Fire managers say fire potential is predicted to be above normal in much of the West, including almost all of Arizona, New Mexico, California and Oregon; and portions of Montana, Idaho, Colorado, Utah, and Washington. In 2012, 9.3 million acres of private, state, and federal land, and more than 4,400 structures burned in wildfires.

That was the third highest number of acres burned since at least 1960, the earliest date with reliable records.

Rocky Barker is the energy and environment reporter for the Idaho Statesman and has been writing about the West since 1985. He is the author of Scorched Earth How the Fires of Yellowstone Changed America and co-producer of the movie Firestorm: Last Stand at Yellowstone, which was inspired by the book and broadcast on A&E Network. He also co-authored the Flyfisher's Guide to Idaho and the Wingshooter's Guide to Idaho with Ken Retallic. He also was on the Statesman’s team that covered the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news in 2007. The National Wildlife Federation awarded him its Conservation Achievement Award.

Posted in Letters from the West