BLM prepares for increased fire danger during total solar eclipse

Posted at 5:24 PM, Jul 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-31 19:24:03-04

The total solar eclipse will last about two minutes, but the Boise District BLM says with the amount of visitors and campers in the state, that small period of time could pose a big threat when it comes to sparking new wildfires.

"We expect a lot of people dispersed-camping on our grounds," Boise District BLM Public Affairs Specialist Mike Williamson said. "That's going to mean a lot of people driving off the side of the road. We have a lot of tall, dry grass, and there's a high fire danger. People just don't realize how easy it is to start a fire that way."

It's difficult to pinpoint exactly how many eclipse-tourists are going to show up on Aug. 21, but rough estimates say up to 500,000 visitors could be in the area that day. 

With people scattered through Idaho's wilderness, the Boise District BLM is bringing in more resources.

"We are going to have more firefighters in that path of totality area ready to respond," Williamson said. "We will have more law enforcement. We will have our [BLM] information officers out there to make contact."

Williamson said do not be alarmed if a BLM fire information officer approaches your campsite.

"Our priority is getting information out and we're hoping to get to as many people as we can," he said.

It's not just the BLM on high alert.

"With that many people coming in to some of the rural counties... it's a team effort," Williamson said. "We're working with the Forest Service, the [Idaho] Office of Emergency Management [and] the counties."