wildfires

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After weeks of hot and dry weather, Yellowstone National Park’s fire managers raised the fire danger rating to “high”. The warning comes as the park heads into its busiest season and one of the biggest holiday weekends of the year.

Traci Weaver with Yellowstone National Park says that means visitors to the park this July 4th weekend need to be extra-careful when dealing with fire. She says campfires should be completely put out and cool to the touch, and fireworks are not allowed anywhere in the park. That includes things you might not think of as fireworks.

National Park Service

Pine beetles and drought is leaving Wyoming and other states more susceptible to wildfires than at any point in recent memory, yet the federal fire policy doesn’t seem to be keeping up with the new climate. Wyoming lawmakers are trying to solve the problem.

Wikipedia Commons

Like the enormous herds wild of bison that once thundered across the west, in coming years the forests of Yellowstone may, too, become few and far between.

That’s according to the new study The Coming Climate: Ecological Impacts of Climate Change On Teton County, commissioned by the Chartour Institute. Corinna Riginos is a research ecologist and co- authored the report. She tells Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard the data itself isn’t new – but they’re using it to make predictions about what could happen to the ecosystem and economy in Northwestern Wyoming.

Forecasters say drought and wildfire could ravage much of the Western U.S. this summer. To help farmers and ranchers be prepared, the Obama Administration rolled out several programs last week at a press conference for Western governors. Some initiatives could help Wyoming producers.

U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Robert Bonnie said some short term solutions are necessary. One is to reimburse ranchers who lose livestock because of a lack of grass or water.

Kari Greer, National Interagency Fire Center

With wildfires becoming larger and more expensive every year, the federal government is proposing new ways to fund fighting them. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press conference Tuesday that even though $50 million more has been budgeted this year than last year for wildfires, they’re expecting a shortfall of up to a $1.5 billion if wildfires rage out of control in California and in the northwest like they did last year.

Vilsack says wildfire management has exceeded its budget in half of the last 14 fire seasons.

Rebecca Huntington

In the summer of 1988, 36 percent of Yellowstone National Park was on fire. To this day, it remains the largest wildfire since Yellowstone became a national park. Yellowstone's spokesperson at that time, Joan Anzelmo remembers what it was like to be at the center of the firestorm.

U.S. Forest Service, Associated Press

Yale forestry researchers say wildfires are getting larger and costlier across the nation. Jude Bayham who spoke at the University of Wyoming Wednesday says that the more development that occurs in wild areas, the more complex wildfires become.  

He says the Rocky Mountain region has seen an increase in such homes and it costs more to protect them when a wildfire breaks out. Homes built in wildlands have a direct impact on a wildfire’s cost and size.

A flash flood warning is in effect near Rockspring, there’s a flash flood watch across much of Western and Central Wyoming, and more rain is expected through the weekend. 

There are three fires burning across Wyoming today. Near Sinks Canyon in Freemont County, in The Hard Luck area of the Washakie Wilderness and in the western Battle Creek area of area of Medicine Bow national forest. The fire near Hard Luck was discovered by reconnaissance planes on Saturday and the most recent fire, burning near Battle Creek picked up Monday.

Kabir Bakie / Creative Commons

A wet spring has shortened Wyoming’s fire season, according to Wyoming’s State Forester.


Bill Crapser says decreased fire danger has allowed the Cowboy State to lend 50 people and 15 engines to fight wildfires in Colorado.


Crapser expects much of the state’s plant life to dry out in July and August, which makes wildfires more likely.


“We’re not gonna get through unscathed, but I don’t think we’ll see fires of the number or the size that we saw last year.”