Wildfires ravaged America’s landscape in 2022. How extensive was it? According to the 2022 National Interagency Coordination Center’s Wildland Fire Summary and Statistics Annual Report, 68,988 wildfires burned 7,577,183 acres across the United States. By comparison, that marks an increase of 10,003 fires that scorched 451,540 more acres than in 2021.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is a long-time advocate of prescribed burns, forest thinning and other treatments to enhance habitat for elk and other wildlife while also helping to reduce the risk of wildfire. It does so by joining forces with federal and state agencies and other partners.
In 2022, the U.S. Forest Service launched an effort to better protect communities and improve forest resiliency thanks to 10 projects that treated more than 3.2 million acres across eight western states. In 2023, it selected 11 more landscapes in areas where RMEF has a history of carrying out habitat enhancement activities.
One of the new projects is in central Idaho. And RMEF is a project partner. The goal is to reduce hazardous fuels and restore watersheds that include the Clearwater, Salmon and Snake Rivers with 5,000 acres of treatment in 2023 and 55,000 acres over the next five years, including 2,500 acres of stream and wetland restoration.
When wildfires do happen, RMEF seeks to restore landscapes impacted by them. In 2022, RMEF and its partners allocated more than $1 million toward those efforts and will continue that commitment going forward.
(Photo source: Idaho Department of Fish and Game)