The Idaho Transportation Department will close a section of Interstate 84 east of Mountain Home tomorrow morning, allowing BLM crews to conduct a controlled burn of vegetation along the highway.
The closure will be for westbound traffic only between Exit 112 and Exit 90. Traffic will be detoured off I-84 at Exit 112 (Hammett Hill Rd.), travel on Old Highway 30, and rejoin the Interstate at Exit 90 (I-84B in Mountain Home).
“We definitely want to thank ITD for being a great partner every year,” said Jared Jablonski, Fire Information Officer for the Boise District BLM. “We have spring meetings every year and we work together on mitigating fire risk along the highway.”
Check out this video of a controlled burn from earlier this year along Idaho Highway 51.
ITD has partnered with the Boise District Bureau of Land Management on vegetation control since 2007. Since that time, the annual number of fire starts along this section of the Interstate has dropped significantly.
“The savings to the taxpayer from this activity are considerable,” said Carl Vaughn, ITD foreman out of Mountain Home. “Fewer starts means we don’t have to close the road, firefighters can be deployed elsewhere, and public and private land adjacent to the Interstate are spared the damage of catastrophic wildfires. It’s also helped reduce animal strikes along the Interstate.”
The BLM regularly conducts controlled burns along Southwest Idaho highways during the spring. There is a narrow window when temperatures are low and new vegetation is greening up where crews can conduct controlled burns in Idaho’s desert steppe. The spring activity pays dividends during peak fire season.
“When the summertime rolls around, roadside vegetation really does become a problem, as far as unnecessary human-caused fires along the roadway,” said Jablonski. “The more fuel we can get rid of in a controlled setting, the more benefit it is to us.”
ITD and the BLM remind travelers to be fire wise and make choices to prevent wildfires this year. Two common causes of man-made wildfires are tow chains dragging on the road and sparking or hot cars parking in grassy areas. Ensure tow chains are elevated off the ground and avoid parking in areas where exhaust pipes or a catalytic converter is contacting dry grass.