It seems too early in the year to be worrying about this, but it appears fire season has come upon us whether we like it or not.
With the big Table Rock blaze that burned 2,500 acres of the foothills June 30 came added urgency to maintaining the precious resource of our open spaces. That the fire destroyed a home is tragedy enough—that it was likely caused by fireworks a few short days before the Fourth of July was an added disaster.
The frustration expressed by Boise Fire Chief Dennis Doan has been palpable in interviews. He has clearly had enough of the bizarre legal loophole that allows for the sale of fireworks that are banned from being used in the state. When people show they are clearly unable to be responsible enough not to burn whole swaths of land that voters overwhelmingly agreed to support with their tax dollars, it's hard not to identify with his anger.
Then came the Fourth of July and the obvious reality that few people were listening to Doan's plea to keep it safe and sane. Fireworks sparked a blaze in Nampa that destroyed another home. Meanwhile, on the Boise Bench, the shows going up from residents' backyards went on until well past midnight.
As if all that wasn't bad enough, fire in the foothills has taken on another dimension with the request by a landowner to build a private airstrip almost directly on the area that was recently burned.
The city of Boise is adamant that the airstrip has no place in the foothills, but Ada County commissioners have already given it the green light. For his part, Doan's blood pressure is probably amped even higher by the fact that the proposed landing area not only presents a fire risk but, he says, is covered by a "sham" fire protection district.
It's a battle of property rights versus safety, conservation and the very core of what the foothills mean to Boise.
Read BW News Editor George Prentice's profile on the controversy here.