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Kootenai County encompasses a fire regime that was once dominated by frequent low intensity wildfires. As our county increases in population these historic events have obviously been suppressed, deemed a public nuisance and damaging to values at risk (homes, etc). The vegetation responds and suppressed, shaded vegetation has continued in succession and often times provides a pathway for fire to burn from the surface to the crowns of trees with high rates of spread and large flame lengths. Hazardous fuels reduction modifies the fuel complex so that in the event of a wild land fire occurring, it burns with low intensity, small flame lengths, and slow rates of spread, easily managed by fire personnel. This keeps our values on the landscape and makes our county a safer place to live.
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The program is focusing on connectivity of treatments to improve effectiveness of preventing an intense and severe wild land fire event. If your project is near or adjacent to fuel breaks, prescribed burns, or hazardous fuel reduction projects, it is more likely to qualify. Areas in the county where multiple land owners and partnerships exist will have the best eligibility for grant funding to assist in hazardous fuels reduction.
No. The program focuses on reducing surface and ladder fuels, which in the event of a wild land fire, promotes crown replacing fires that move rapidly and are difficult to contain. The program typically modifies a forested stand structure by cutting under story, suppressed vegetation up to 6 inch diameter material. The program would like to promote large fire resistant trees that are native to our ecosystem. The desired future condition in a forested stand is one where a fire event would burn on the surface, be easy to control, and not cause mortality to the over story tree species.
No. The program strives to promote treatments that are effective and makes sense in preventing a catastrophic fire event in our community. If it doesn't make sense to treat a portion of your land, by all means, treatment would not be prescribed.
Typical hazardous fuel reduction work on private property entails mechanically cutting surface and ladder fuels with a chainsaw or brush saw and placing the cut material in piles away from leave-trees. Piles are typically constructed to be about 4 foot high and 4 foot in diameter, covered with a sheet of plastic to retain an area of drier fuels in the pile. Piles are then typically burned in the fall months when the risk of fire spreading to adjacent fuels is really low.
Landowners must first contact their local fire district and obtain a permit to burn hazardous fuels. The fire district will direct you to coordinate your burning activities with the Department of Air Quality so as to burn when smoke dispersal is the best to minimize air quality effects. Fire managers typically use a drip torch that drizzles a gasoline (33%) and diesel (66%) mixture selectively out of the torch over a flaming wick, inducing intense fire that ignites material in the pile. Patience is often the best rule of thumb when burning piles, avoiding getting too many piles on fire and inducing mortality on desired vegetation and increasing the risk of control difficulties.