wildfires

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With summer around the corner, fire season also looms. This year's wet spring has delayed the onset of wildfires compared to last year, but that doesn't necessarily mean the fire season will be less intense than normal. Wyoming State Forester Bill Crapser says fire season can be very hard to predict.

A 2017 “flash drought” on the northern Great Plains led to massive wildfires, millions of dollars in lost tourism revenue and $2.6 billion in agricultural losses, according to a new federal report released Thursday.

Colorado is testing out self-driving ATVs to assist wildland firefighters at work. The state is working with Honda to test out the company’s emerging technology.    

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Landowners and homeowners worried about this year's fire season in the Bighorn Basin can learn about wildfire mitigation at a workshop in Worland.

U.S. Army Photo by Preston L. Chasteen

Wildfire season is around the corner in the Mountain West. Prescribed burns are just one way to reduce wildfire risk. That's because, in the right setting, they reduce built-up dry fuel in a controlled environment.

Soil erosion in the West is getting worse. And that’s creating more dust – which isn’t good for ecosystems, human health or the economy.

Legislation to mandate the use of cutting edge technology in fighting wildfires passed the House Wednesday and is now headed to the president’s desk.

 


A few months ago, John Parker retired and moved into a salmon-colored log house on a mountain called Tungsten in unincorporated Boulder County.

"Just to get a little piece of heaven, get away from the madding crowd," he says.

Inside, a wood-fired stove fills the house with heat and a low hum. Outside, the snow feels like thick, gritty icing. The wind barrels up a slope, gathering snow into a glittery stream. When the glitter stream meets the house, it curves around and hugs it, piling up around the back steps. It does not feel like the time to think about wildfires. But if that same wind was carrying embers instead of snow, those would follow the same path and instead of glittering, that pile by the back door would be glowing.

Winter is when the federal government starts spending dollars to prepare for the wildfire season, but the ongoing shutdown has put some of this preparation in limbo.

Department of the Interior

A new Executive Order posted Monday in the Federal Register is aimed at fire risk reduction. It prioritizes "active management" on about eight million acres of public lands. That's a catch-all phrase that includes logging.

Erik Neumann

2018 was an interesting year for our region. From elections and population growth to an evolving debate about public lands use, the Mountain West News Bureau tackled all kinds of stories. We took a look back.

We’ve had a brutal fire season this year. The fires still burning across California have left more than 80 dead, and hundreds are still missing. Amidst the flames, a seemingly new trend has emerged – a two-tiered system with private firefighting resources for those who can afford them, and a system stretched thin for the rest.


The words “record-breaking” and “unprecedented” are commonly used to describe the scale of the modern-day west’s wildfires. But a new study suggests those terms leave out some important historical context.

Tennessee Watson

Rising sea levels for some, and catastrophic droughts and wildfires for others, are imminent unless immediate action is taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report from the United Nations. Yet in Wyoming only 60 percent of adults believe that global warming is actually happening. University of Cincinnati Anthropologist Daniel Murphy has studied how humans make decisions in the face environmental changes, from Mongolia to the Mountain West. He says the key to starting conversations about what to do about climate change is not to mention it all. Wyoming Public Radio's Tennessee Watson sat down with Murphy to find out more.


U.S. Forest Service

Fall might be in the air, but wildfires continue to burn across the country. One of the largest is in Wyoming and has reached over 60,000 acres.

Wildfires in the West can destroy homes and create a lot of really nasty smoke. But a new study from the University of Montana says it also helps grow some really great food for elk.

RyanFire2018

Dry hot winds caused two large fires burning in the state to grow over the weekend. The Ryan Fire on the Colorado-Wyoming border is now over 19,000 acres and 30 percent contained. No homes have been lost there. A little rain fell on it Sunday and Monday, but temperatures are expected to remain high through the week. Archery hunters should check with the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest about closures.

U.S. FOREST SERVICE-BRIDGER-TETON NATIONAL FOREST FACEBOOK PAGE

It may be autumn in a couple of days but wildfire season isn't slowing down. People living in parts of Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah remain evacuated from their homes because of nearby wildfires. And the flames are fueling another thing-private firefighting companies.

Wildfires are still burning across much of the Mountain West. In Colorado, heat and drought are pushing fires into new areas. In Utah, evacuations are still in place for two blazes.

Meanwhile, new information is out about what caused the death of one Utah firefighter last month during California’s Mendocino Complex Fire.

The sun is just a dim red dot. The nearby Canadian Rockies are shrouded in thick wildfire smoke.

Bob Gray knows we probably shouldn’t be hiking up a mountain right now.

“I have a scratchy throat,” he says. “Physically it effects my breathing. I probably shouldn’t spend a lot of time in it.”

Nearly three hundred names have been added to the Fallen Firefighter Memorial in Colorado Springs. Occupational cancer claimed many of those lives.

A series of small forest fires that started this week in northern Utah and southern Wyoming are being investigated as arsons.

Western firefighters were working the biggest wildfire in California’s history when they encountered a surprising obstacle: slow internet.

With wildfires burning through much of the West, there’s high demand for big aircraft to come in and battle the flames from above.

Colorado is called “the mother of  rivers” for a reason: it’s one of the most popular states for river rafting in the country.  But like the rest of our region, unprecedented growth, a changing climate, drought, and wildfires are taking their toll on this multi-million-dollar industry.

Wildfire smoke reached dangerous levels across the Mountain West Monday. Eastern Washington had the worst air in the country and all 56 counties in Montana were under an air quality alert – possibly the first time that’s happened in the state’s history.

Over the last 30 years, the West has seen an uptick in the size and frequency of forest fires. Scientists have typically attributed the change to low snowpack and high summer temperatures. But researchers writing in the journal PNAS say the trend could have more to do with rain.

Researchers pulled up maps of forest wildfires from 1979 to 2016 and compared those maps against data on snow, rain, temperature and humidity.

Alexi Hubbell Photography

With its breathtaking views, the Mountain West has long been a destination for weddings. But now, some wedding industry workers are seeing fewer couples wanting to get hitched in late summer months because of an increasingly smoky backdrop.

Utah officials are praising a Draper firefighter who was killed while battling California's biggest wildfire, the first fatality of the massive Mendocino Complex Fire. 

Scorching temperatures are hitting our region’s biggest tourist attractions. On Friday, temperatures at Glacier National Park hit triple digits for the first time in recorded history.

A couple days later, the Howe Ridge fire blew up.

Lodgers and campers awoke late Sunday night to officials telling them to get out as soon as possible.


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