Senate ENR Holds Hearing on Wildfire Funding

By Greg Pilchak

On June 23rd, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing to receive testimony on the recent discussion draft entitled “Wildfire Budgeting, Response and Forest Management Act of 2016.” The hearing on the bill focused on three main issues: 1) the need to end “fire borrowing”; 2) the growing portion of the USDA Forest Service’s (USFS) budget consumed by wildfire suppression funds; and 3) the need for forestry reforms to encourage more active management.

Record 66 Million Trees Dead in Southern Sierra Nevada

The U.S. Forest Service announced that it has identified an additional 26 million trees dead in California since October 2015. These trees are located in six counties across 760,000 acres in the southern Sierra Nevada region of the state, and are in addition to the 40 million trees that died statewide from 2010 to October 2015, bringing the total to at least 66 million dead trees. Four consecutive years of severe drought in California, a dramatic rise in bark beetle infestation and warmer temperatures are leading to historic levels of tree die-off.

Idaho Preparing for Summer Wildfire Season

With the onset of very hot temperatures increasing the potential for larger fires in Idaho, the summer wildfire season clearly is under way.

The Idaho Department of Lands (IDL) is finalizing its review for fire season preparedness with all the Idaho Resource Areas and the combinations of suppression resources are ready for the tough months ahead.

“Our goal is to take strong aggressive action with new fire starts and keep fires to less than 10 acres on State-protected lands,” State Forester David Groeschl said.

Jonathon Motsinger Receives Bronze Smokey Bear Award

Texas A&M Forest Service Staff Forester Jonathon Motsinger received a Bronze Smokey Bear Award this week. Motsinger was honored at the Southern Group of State Foresters’ annual meeting in Mobile, Alabama for his innovative method to share Smokey Bear’s wildfire prevention message.

Motsinger created the Smokey Bear 70th Birthday Geocoin, which enables geocachers to locate, move, and log-in 70 trackable Smokey geocoins throughout the world. The Smokey Bear 70th Birthday geocoins are engraved with Smokey’s famous slogan, “Only you can prevent wildfires.”