Mud season has gone missing in central Idaho. Its disappearance and the resulting high risk of wildfire on public lands will threaten the local economy unless public agencies take steps to reduce it.
Blaine County and its cities, the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management should impose fire restrictions soon.
Local travel groups predict that summer will bring a bumper crop of visitors to the area. They have already begun to arrive. However, travelers don’t like to visit and spend money in areas choked with smoke from wildfires.
The Wood River and Sawtooth valleys have had three small wildfires already this year. They are unwelcome signs.
The first occurred when a campfire got away in Quigley Canyon in early April. The next one was sparked in Indian Creek by a Rodenator, a device that ignites gas pumped into rodent tunnels. The third ignited over the weekend near Stanley Lake and spread over 40 acres.
It’s easy to see what’s ahead. Mountain mud season used to span April and May. Rain dominated the weather. Rain and melting snow muddied trails. Camping was cold and miserable. Campers were scarce.
Climate change has contributed to drought conditions that will persist at least through July, according to the National Weather Service.
The best way to fight wildfires and to keep them from ruining the area’s summer is to stop them before they start through education and fire restrictions. Now is the time to get those tools in motion.
“Our View” represents the opinion of the newspaper editorial board, which is made up of members of its board of directors. Remarks may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.