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BLM Paradigm Project Seeks To Stop Fire Cycle

Elmore County, ID

Dozens of range fires have been ignited by humans, vehicles and lightning along the Interstate 84 corridor between Boise and Glenns Ferry for decades. In fact, over the last 35 years, more than 170,000 acres have burned in the 294,000-acre area. Eighty percent of the fires were human-caused and 20 percent were ignited by lightning.

Some of these areas have burned repeatedly, charring sagebrush and other vital perennial plants to the point where invasive species such as cheatgrass have overtaken burned-over lands. But the Bureau of Land Manage- ment, the primary landowner in the project area between Boise and Glenns Ferry, wants to try to stop the vicious fire cycle. Ranchers do, too.

It's not only the worst hot spot in Idaho, in terms of fire frequency, it's the worst hot spot in the nation. BLM experts say it's a deadly combination of vehicle ignitions, lightning strikes and highly flammable cheatgrass that fuel the recycle.

"With the travel corridors, we're getting a lot of ignitions because of the vehicles and stuff like that," said Lance Okeson, fire management officer for the Bureau of Land Management Boise District. "But we also have a lot of lightning every summer. This is a lightning belt. So you not only have the human factor overriding it, you've got the invasion of cheatgrass, and then you've got the continuing lightening. All those three things together are why we've lost a lot of habitat out here."

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