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Boise Fire Dept. thins wildfire fuel heading into 'wildfire awareness month'

Boise Fire Department worked alongside Boise Parks and Recreation and the Audubon Society to remove the invasive Russian Olive tree from an east Boise park.

BOISE, Idaho — A collaboration between the Boise Fire Department (BFD), Boise Parks and Recreation, and the Golden Eagle Audubon Society (GEAS) removed the invasive Russian olive tree from Marianne Williams Park located in east Boise.

The project served multiple motivations. Chief among them, BFD marketed the effort to kickoff wildfire awareness month. Removing the Russian olive tree thins vegetation and mitigates the spread of potential wildfires and the severity of a potential wildfire.

"We are breaking up the fuel continuity, we're reducing the fuel load, and at the same time taking care of an invasive tree species we don't want anyway," said BFD Wildfire Mitigation Specialist Jerry McAdams. "If we don't come in here and do this, it keeps that fuel load on the heavier side. If a wildfire does burn through here toward the end of the season when fuels are cured out, you're gonna lose more trees. More desirable trees which are part of the habitat in that particular area."

GEAS is connected with this project specifically to protect the natural habitat, according to GEAS volunteer Alan Crokett.

The Russian olive tree is insidious, Crokett said. Over time, it slowly replaces the existing vegetation and tree species. This impacts the ecosystem and natural food chain.

"[The Russian olive tree] has fine hairs on the underside of the leaf, and the insects don't eat that. They fall in the water, and they don't feed the water insects which doesn't feed the fish. And it's not doing great things for the birds either," Crokett said. "The birds need the insects particularly in the spring when they're breeding because they need protein."

While the folks at GEAS are focused on cleaning up the homes of our wildlife first, BFD encourages local residents to do the same on their property.

Wildfire awareness month receives national participation, McAdams said. BFD says local residents should take note and be 'firewise' heading into the highest risk wildfire months.

"We want to see people limb up their trees, take that dead and down material away from their structure. Clean up all the leaf debris and pine needle debris around their houses and reduce the ignition vulnerability around their homes," McAdams said.

BFD offers a free wildfire home safety evaluation and a free chipping service to rid the unnecessary fuels from your property. BFD encourages local residents to be proactive and take advantage of these resources during wildfire awareness month.

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