Cuts Affecting Idaho Fire Fighters This Season

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By KBOI News
By Alexa Tieu

Boise, Idaho ( KBOI2 News ) It's a tough equation to deal with... Limited fire resources and budget constraints that could leave Idaho in a lurch when it comes to battling those wildfire blazes.

So just how many cuts could we see?

With signs pointing to another extreme fire season in the west...U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell warn budget cuts and sequester holdbacks will make fighting fires doubly hard this year.

"We're going to be faced with a difficult fire season. Make no mistake about that. Bottom line is we are going to do everything we can but people have to understand, the resources are limited, our budgets have been constrained," explains Vilsack.

Last year the U.S. Forest Service employed 10,500 fire fighters nationally...This year that force will be reduced by 500.

In addition to those fewer firefighters, we're also going into this season with 50 fewer fire engines. What does this all mean for Idaho? That depends on what kind of fire activity we have this summer.

Speaking at Boise's National Interagency Fire Center, Secretary Jewell said another casualty of budget constraints...will be the ability to rehabilitate land scorched by fire.

Jewell explains, "If you allow it to simply reseed with cheat grass, you're just increasing the fire risk. Those kinds of programs are really taking a hit."

Grim warnings as a critical fire season approaches.


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