It’s hard not to notice the impacts of the Walker Fire in the Treasure Valley, which has been filled with smoke since the fire started on Saturday, Oct 10. Investigations are underway to determine how the fire started, but indications are that it was human-caused.

The fire is burning in a landscape that the Boise Forest Coalition and the Boise National Forest had already identified as having a deadly combination of flammable forests and rapid development of homes. The proposed Clear-Robie project would reduce fuels and fire risk on the Boise National Forest adjacent to homes in the Clear Creek, Robie Creek and Wilderness Ranch communities.

The coalition meetings are open to the public, and attendance by those interested in forest management issues is encouraged. The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Oct 15 in the Trophy Room at Idaho Department of Fish and Game in Boise (600 S Walnut St).

In fact, the Boise National Forest has already implemented some treatments in the at-risk areas to thin forests and conduct prescribed burns in the wildland-urban interface, the zone where homes and flammable forests meet. We’ll be working alongside our partners with the Forest Service and the Boise Forest Coalition to evaluate how these efforts affected fire behavior.

Ultimately, fuels reduction projects on public lands will have little impact unless they are complemented by changes on the part of private homeowners. That’s why efforts like the Idaho Firewise program are so important. By providing landowners with grants and a better understanding, we can better prepare for inevitable wildfires.

As Idahoans, we know that fire is simply part of life in the West. Especially in light of a changing climate, fire seasons are lasting longer and affecting more acres. Ultimately, the challenge is learning to live with fire.

And there are additional steps that we can explore to safeguard communities and firefighters. After the fires of 2015 that destroyed dozens of homes across Idaho and thousands across the West, it’s time that we evaluate some of these potential solutions.