Idaho Gov. C.L. Butch Otter pledged to make wildfires on public land a priority in 2013. He’s asking lawmakers to help put more volunteers to work with professional firefighters.
Otter is asking for $400,000 for four volunteer fire groups in Idaho. They would make ranchers the first responders to fires that threaten homes and livestock. Otter says “I see great promise in it for us to really not have our natural resource, especially our rangeland and forest savaged by mismanagement.”
Otter says a combination of mismanagement and neglect by the federal government is to blame for many of the fires on public land.
About a quarter of Idaho’s land base is publicly owned rangeland used by ranchers to graze livestock.
These groups would be allowed to work with the federal government’s firefighters.
Otter’s idea is based on a fire protection district formed by Mountain Home-area ranchers last fall.
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