Annually, an average of 23 fires occur in the wildland-urban interface of the Boise metropolitan area. Approximately 83 percent are human caused. Seventy-five percent of the Foothills between Highway 55 and Highway 21 burned at least once between 1959 and 2010. Fires in 1959 and 1996 burned 25,000 and 16,000 acres respectively, resulting in subsequent flood damage to residential areas, persistent scars from rehabilitation efforts, and the long-term loss of critical big game winter habitats.
And following the August 2008 Oregon Trail Fire, which destroyed or damaged some 20 Southeast Boise homes and killed one person, the city of Boise signed the Wildland-Urban Interface Memorandum of Understanding with the Bureau of Land Management, Ada County, the city of Eagle and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
This coming Tuesday, Feb. 11, the Boise City Council will be briefed on 2014's proposed wildfire mitigation projects, which are expected to total $183,000, to be funded through the Southwest Idaho Resource Conservation and Development Council.
Among the projects is an $89,000 thinning of heavily overgrown sagebrush on nine acres in the area of the 2008 Oregon Trail Fire. Thinning is expected to be conducted by the Idaho Transportation Department and funding is also expected to pay for goat grazing, and reseeding on approximately 33 acres.
An additional $15,000 is earmarked for a so-called "chipper" program, which picks up woody debris (10 inches in diameter or less) and limbs for curbside pick-up.
Also on 2014's wish list is the creation of a Remote Automatic Weather Station, a joint project with the National Weather Service office in Boise, the National Interagency Fire Center, the BLM and Boise State University. The RAWS would ideally be placed in the Boise Front and would be a tactical utility during a wildfire.