Idaho and Wyoming prepare for active fire season, says Forest Service

July 9, 2024

Fire readiness in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest

As reported by the Forest Service, USDA, the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, spanning the Idaho-Wyoming state line, is gearing up for an active fire season.

The forest has seven ranger districts and covers various terrains, from Yellowstone National Park’s edge to remote areas in Wyoming.

In preparation, forest employees participate in spring training exercises as part of the annual fire season readiness review.

This year, two major training scenarios were conducted.

These exercises involved multiple agencies to identify and address barriers to effective wildfire response.

North end training scenario

Bradley Bugger, Caribou-Targhee National Forest training specialist, and Briana Bolton, assistant supervisor for the Swan Valley Helitack, coordinated a training mission simulating a helicopter crash.

The exercise included interagency dispatch, search and rescue, and emergency medical services, engaging the forest’s Helitack crews, Air Idaho Rescue Partners, and Bonneville County Search and Rescue.

Bugger explained: “We went into it hoping to identify issues and to fix those in a training environment versus in real life.” The scenario revealed critical communication gaps and resource needs, emphasizing the importance of readiness.

Bolton highlighted the unpredictability of aircraft accidents and the necessity of having trained professionals ready to respond.

South end fire response drill

On the south end, fire response teams from various agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management and local fire departments, collaborated to practice fire response.

This exercise covered the process from receiving a call to handing over the scene to an incident management team.

Jared Fisher, Caribou-Targhee National Forest public affairs specialist, stated: “Every time we get together with our cooperators it’s good because we do things our way, they do things their way.”

This cooperation is crucial for managing urban interface fires effectively.

The 2012 Charlotte Fire demonstrated the effectiveness of such collaborations, saving over 2,000 homes.

How you can be prepared

Wildland fires, largely caused by human activities, pose increasing risks.

Wildland firefighters work to protect lives and properties.

Visitors to federal lands should check for local fire restrictions and closures.

Information can be found on local National Forest or Grassland websites.

Additionally, wildfire preparedness and community risk levels are available at WildfireRisk.org.

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