By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports
Idaho Department of Lands Director Dustin Miller offered a fire season update on Tuesday to the Idaho State Board of Land Commissioners, including the anticipated cost of wildfires.
Miller said the numbers have changed, as the numbers he presented are from Aug. 8, but as of that date, emergency fire suppression costs are estimated to be $11.7 million. Of that cost, about $557,000 will be reimbursable, leaving the state with an obligation of an estimated $11.2 million.
As of Aug. 9, IDL lands saw 198 fires, with 152 of them being human-caused, burning about 1,969 acres, according to IDL.
Most large fires burned in Idaho this summer are on U.S. Forest Service land. Miller told the board that most of north and southwest Idaho are forecasted to have an elevated fire risk through September. July left Idaho with above average temperatures and below normal precipitation, contributing to the risk.
The cost forecast Tuesday is significantly lower than the 2021 fire season, when in August of 2021, emergency fire suppression costs in Idaho were at about $51.8 million.
Ongoing large fires in Idaho include the Hayden Fire, about 18 miles west of Leadore, which has burned more than 24,000 acres. The Hayden Fire is at 48% containment after starting July 19, due to an undetermined cause.
The Elkhorn Fire, near the Krassel Ranger District in the Payette National Forest, is at 40% containment and has burned nearly 26,000 acres. The fire ignited on July 24 due to an undetermined cause.
IDL will provide an updated cost estimate for fire suppression at the next board meeting.