Letter to the Editor

BLM manager says thanks for help on Kinyon fire

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dear editor:

As I look back at the events of the last week and the Kinyon Road Fire, I can examine the statistics like acres lost, cost and duration.

But I would rather focus on the human side of the equation -- the many men and woman who provided the outstanding local community assistance in containing a dangerous wildfire that in the matter of a couple of days grew to be Idaho's largest wildfire for 2012 and the number one priority wildfire in the nation.

The support of the town of Castleford, their volunteer fire department and emergency medical services were invaluable to us throughout the last week. The Sheriffs' departments of Elmore, Owyhee and Twin Falls counties were integral in securing the fire perimeter and preventing the public from placing themselves in harm's way or interfering with suppression activities.

There is no price we can place on the value of this support. On behalf of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), please accept my sincere thanks.

As with all incidents, the BLM's most important concern is the health and safety of the public and our employees. During the Kinyon Road Fire, we had no major safety incidents, for which I am very thankful. However, the impact to our land resources is another story. What took less than a week to burn will take years to stabilize and restore.

On Sunday, July 8, our BLM Twin Falls District ecologist immediately mobilized staff to begin addressing the impacts to the area; planning the stabilization and restoration effort; and exploring long-term solutions to enhance the protection of the public land resources we manage.

The fire burned into many valued land resource areas, including grazing allotments, preliminary priority and general sage-grouse habitat, a wild horse herd management area (HMA) and the Saylor Creek Training Range. Fortunately, our wild horse herd was found unharmed in an undamaged portion of the HMA and we did not have any reports of fatalities to livestock.

I know that the economic and ecological impacts will be felt for some time. In the meantime, the BLM will be making every effort to mitigate the severity of the Kinyon Road Fire aftermath.

As I look out my office window and see a slight rain drizzle, I am thankful for the welcome relief from nature, but I also know we must never become complacent to the danger of wildfire. Although Kinyon Road was naturally caused, many of the wildfires in southern Idaho are human caused.

So please be careful with open flames, fireworks and parking off of improved roads or trails. With the increased fire restrictions, I also remind you not to smoke outside of your vehicle, and never throw your cigarette butts outside as you are driving. Enjoy your public lands and be safe this summer.

-- Brian Davis, Jarbidge Field Manager, Bureau of Land Management Twin Falls District