A smokejumper exits a plane. (US Forest Service photo)
This blog is part of a series from the U.S. Forest Service on its wildland firefighting program to increase awareness about when and how the agency suppresses fires, to provide insights into the lives of those fighting fires, and to explain some of the cutting-edge research underway on fire behavior. Check back to the USDA Blog during the 2013 wildfire season for new information. Additional resources are available at www.fs.fed.us/wildlandfire/.
Imagine jumping from a plane into a fire, with enough provisions to last for several days. That’s what highly trained Forest Service smokejumpers do to provide quick initial attack on wildland fires.
The attack is a well-choreographed scenario. Aircraft can hold anywhere from eight to 16 jumpers, a ‘spotter’ who stays with the plane, the pilot and provisions to make the jumpers self-sufficient for 72 hours. The spotter is responsible for the safe release of the jumpers. Once the jumpers have landed, the aircraft will circle around and drop their cargo by parachute from just above treetop height. The spotter also is responsible for communicating essential information about the wind, fire activity and the terrain to the jumpers, the pilot and to dispatch centers. Read more »
Thomas Barnett, a March 2013 graduate of the Centennial Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center, works on building slash piles to help thin unwanted forest fuels on the Boise National Forest in 2012. Recently hired by the forest, Barnett will start work as part of fire crew in May and put his newly minted wildland firefighting skills to work as he pursues a career in firefighting. (U.S. Forest Service photo/ Michael Delaney)
Until recently, Thomas Barnett, formerly of Washington state, did not have a career goal in mind.
However, this spring, the 24-year-old graduated from the Centennial Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center in Nampa, Idaho, and will begin his career as a seasonal firefighter on a fire crew with the Idaho City Ranger District on the Boise National Forest. He said he’ll pursue a career in firefighting because it’s exciting and he enjoys helping people and communities threatened by wildfire. Read more »
The “Great Smokey Sphinx,” the largest sculpting effort by Forest Service volunteers, put the Payette National Forest on the snow sculpture scene at the McCall (Idaho) Winter Carnival snow sculpture contest. (U.S. Forest Service photo)
A team of volunteers from the Payette National Forest have sculpted “Smokey’s Magic” a 12-foot high, 3 foot deep sculpture of Smokey Bear in a wizard’s cloak with snowball in hand for the popular Winter Carnival in nearby McCall, Idaho. The Forest Service team, whose members all volunteer their off-duty time to the sculpting, are always determined to make a good showing. And Smokey Bear is routinely part of their team. Read more »
As the USDA Rural Development State Director for Oregon, I’m aware of the significant economic benefits our programs have produced in partnership with rural communities, residents and businesses in every corner of my state. As I drove across the country during my recent vacation, I was curious to also see how visible the Agency’s support for place-appropriate, locally led efforts would be on my route from Oregon to Virginia. Knowing what to look for, I could easily identify the signs of rural economic and community development—even from my limited dashboard viewpoint—as I drove a transect path across the USDA Rural Development nationwide service area. Rural America accounts for 75 percent of the Nation’s land area, and that is where we work. Across the rural landscape, it is difficult, if not impossible, to find a community that hasn’t benefitted in some way from our support for affordable housing, business development, essential infrastructure, community facilities and clean, efficient energy. Read more »
Rural Development is the lead Federal agency that works to ensure that rural families have access to safe, well-built, affordable homes. In February 2012, the agency initiated a two-year, pilot refinancing program in 19 states hardest hit by the Nation’s housing downturn to help eligible USDA borrowers reduce their monthly housing costs.
Today, USDA announced that the program is expanding to include eligible rural residents in Puerto Rico, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Read more »
Snow surveyors approach SNOTEL site on Mount Hood.
Koeberle’s job carries her over mountains by helicopter and horse, snowshoes and skis. She has encountered grizzly bears, avalanches and wolves and visited ridges that few people have seen.
Koeberle is a hydrologist and snow surveyor for USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and works on the agency’s snow survey team—a group of specially trained scientists who maintain snow gauges that are important to farmers, business owners and many other people in the West. Read more »