Environmental conservation agency officials in Jefferson County, Idaho, have alerted citizens to the prospect of fires, which could cause an invasion of foreign species and noxious weeds to farmlands across the region.
According to a post from The Jefferson Star, commissioners in Jefferson County have collaborated with the Idaho National Laboratory to raise the alarm over the recent occurrences of fires in the region – notably, the Sheep Fire that ravaged the state last year.
They believe there is a prospect for these fires, and possibly even more, to cause the growth of poisonous weeds and invasive species in the county.
The Fallout from 2019 Fires
The Sheep Fire in Idaho was particularly dangerous. According to estimates, it was started by lightning strikes and ended up being one of the worst wildfires in the lower 48 states throughout 2019.
It reportedly consumed up to 112,107 acres of land across a desert site to the west of Idaho Falls that was owned by the United States Department of Energy.
The fires also led to the National Laboratory closing down the facilities at the desert site for two days as a precaution. While authorities were able to contain the fires eventually, their efforts included using a fuel break across a perimeter and lasted about a full day.
The aftermath of the fires, however, continued to affect farmers across the region well into this year. Last month, it was reported that fires on lands owned by INL members had caused concerns, which were laid out to the state’s Congressmen.
Commissioners reached out to representatives of the Noxious Weeds and Invasive Species Department and the INL for collaboration. After a meeting on February 10, a representative from Congressman Mike Simpson’s office confirmed that they would be collaborating with several agencies and county authorities to address the problem.
Time for Positive Action
As The Jefferson Star reported, the county commissioners have approved the purchase of a four-wheeler for the Department of Parks and Recreation to assist it in observing noxious weeds in the region.
An Email from INL Fire Chief Eric Gosswiller also included an outline of their fire prevention plan, which provides for vegetation inspection and seasonal defensible space. Officials will also engage in a preparedness-level program, a restriction campaign, fuel management, and tackle weed spread with wildland fire intelligence systems.
“INL has a well-trained fire department with extensive wildland firefighting experience as a result of the large fires that periodically occur at the desert Site. We view each fire as a learning opportunity to further improve our response tactics while ensuring firefighter safety. We’ve also focused on improving our coordination with BLM and other agencies that assist INL in these large fires,” Gosswiller explained further.
Idaho might have experienced one of the country’s worst fires in 2019, but the state is far from the only part of the country under watch. Last month, New Channel Nebraska reported that several parts of Nebraska had also been placed under Red Flag Warnings and Fire Weather Watches.
According to the report, the National Weather Service categorized several areas across the northeast and southeast of Nebraska as being at high risk of wildfires, as their temperatures had gotten suspiciously high.