Interior Secretary to visit NIFC Tuesday

Posted at 11:20 AM, May 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-23 19:17:19-04

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is scheduled to visit the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise on Tuesday to announce funding for wildfire projects and get a briefing on the 2016 wildfire season outlook.

Officials will also provide Jewell with an update on the implementation of her order last year calling for a science-based approach to safeguarding greater sage grouse while contending with fires that have been especially destructive in the Great Basin.

While in Idaho, Secretary Jewell will also tour the Soda Mountain Fire Rehabilitation site, the location of a nearly 280,000-acre wildfire burn last year, affecting federal, state and private lands in southwest Idaho and eastern Oregon. The Soda Mountain Fire represents the most significant loss of sage-grouse habitat in a single fire season, burning portions of more than 40 grazing allotments, popular motorized and non-motorized trails and more than 400 square miles of wildlife habitat.

She will be joined by Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Janice Schneider as well as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary – Policy, Management and Budget Kris Sarri and other federal family firefighting partners who provided recovery resources and are now providing rehabilitation expertise at the Soda Mountain Fire site, including the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Last week, Secretary Jewell led a discussion with federal family firefighting agencies at the White House regarding the increasing danger to communities in wildland-urban  interface areas as fire seasons become hotter, drier and longer. Jewell also highlighted the need for greater collaborative action to enhance community resilience against these risks and strengthen federal firefighter safety and preparedness.

(AP contributed to this story)