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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Idaho Falls District Welcomes Camas Creek RFPA!


 
Rangeland Fire Protection Association
Concludes Basic Training

On Thursday, February 11, the Camas Creek Rangeland Fire Protection Association (RFPA) concluded their initial fire training in Dubois, Idaho.  Forty local landowners – mostly ranchers – completed the four-day training conducted by employees of Idaho Falls District Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Caribou-Targhee National Forest.  As fires continue to threaten the western landscape and the sagebrush-steppe habitat necessary for the survival of the greater regional sage-grouse, targeted action through coordinated fire suppression activities is increasingly important.  Working with local ranchers to engage in safe fire suppression efforts benefits the landowners and the federal agencies.  The RFPA is the first for the Idaho Falls District and will have protection responsibilities for all of Clark County plus the Birch Creek drainage of Lemhi County.

Jeremy Casterson, Upper Snake Field Office Manager, welcomed the group, “I believe our fire and aviation program is the best there is, and I see you as an extension of that.”   Casterson explained the policies that guide the BLM’s land management approach, including those that address rangeland fire in sage-grouse habitat.  He also thanked the group for their willingness to work with the BLM and cited their connections to the local community as one of the greatest benefits to the mutual success of the BLM and RFPA. 

Dan Zajanc displays a fire shelter to the group. 
Over the course of the four days, all attendees learned basic fire suppression techniques and communication skills.  They learned how to apply what they already know about local weather patterns to fire behavior.  Instructors shared their experiences in fireline leadership, command, and safety.  To receive a certificate for the training, each participant practiced deploying a fire shelter, a life-saving piece of mandatory fireline equipment. 

Idaho Falls District Fire Management Officer Joel Gosswiller was enthusiastic by the turnout.  He discussed the RFPA’s boundaries and authorities.  “This is a perfect area for an RFPA because Clark County is more removed from the population hubs in eastern Idaho.  Their presence bolsters our initial response capabilities when we do have wildfires in the area.”  

The Camas Creek RFPA is still in the process of attaining necessary equipment, from additional fire engines to radios.  Later this spring, the BLM and RFPA will conduct coordinated field training exercises together.