Boise, Idaho – The United States is sending 21 wildland fire personnel from the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Forest Service to assist with ongoing wildfire suppression efforts in Australia. Australia is experiencing early and significant fire activity, particularly in the states of New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. Extended drought combined with hot and dry weather conditions have elevated wildfire risk, and fire activity is expected to continue for the next several months.
“This exchange demonstrates the value of our arrangement for mutual wildland fire support with Australia. It’s a valuable tool for both countries as we face increasingly complex and challenging fires,” said Department of the Interior’s Office of Wildland Fire Director Jeff Rupert. “The interagency team of professionals will share expertise from managing wildland fire under a variety of locations and conditions in the U.S., many of which are similar to what they’ll encounter in Australia.”
Based on the current situation in Australia, the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council is requesting 21 qualified U.S. fire personnel to assist with wildfire and aviation management. The BLM is sending six personnel, including two interagency resource representatives on behalf of the National Interagency Fire Center located in Boise, Idaho. The NPS is sending two people, the BIA is sending one person, the FWS is sending one person, and the USFS is sending 11 personnel. The employees, coming from Alaska, Nevada, Montana, Colorado, Arizona, Idaho, Utah, California, Oregon, Hawaii, and Virginia, will be departing for Australia from the San Francisco International Airport on Thursday, December 5.
Fires that started to burn in August have continued uninterrupted with large areas of both New South Wales and Queensland burned, multiple property losses, and, sadly, fatalities. Fire conditions continue to challenge in New South Wales and Queensland, while new fires are causing concern further south in Victoria. Fire conditions in Australia are extreme due to an extended drought, hot temperatures, and relative humidity in the single digits.
“We’re sending a contingent from several federal agencies that reflects decades of fire management experience,” said U.S. Forest Service Fire Director Shawna Legarza. “We face many of the same firefighting challenges in each country. We’ve utilized their expertise in the past and welcome the opportunity to reciprocate.”
The last fire assistance between the two countries was in August of 2018 when 138 Australian and New Zealand wildfire management personnel were sent to the U.S. for almost 30 days to assist with wildfire suppression efforts in Northern California and the Northwest. The Australian and New Zealand personnel filled critical needs during the peak of the western fire season for mid-level fireline management, heavy equipment, helicopter operations, and structure protection.
The National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group is working with the National Interagency Coordination Center to mobilize resources and distribute the request across interagency partners. The last time the U.S sent firefighters to Australia was in 2010.
The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), located in Boise, Idaho, is the nation's support center for wildland firefighting. Eight different agencies and organizations are part of NIFC including, the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, National Weather Service, U.S. Fire Administration, and the National Association of State Foresters.
(Springfield, Ore.) Dec. 5, 2019— The PacificSource Foundation for Health Improvement recently committed $262,000 in grant funding to support nine nonprofit organizations based in Oregon, Montana, Washington, and Idaho.
“Working in partnership to improve community health is a shared mission of PacificSource and our Foundation, and we are pleased to announce this latest round of funding to these deserving nonprofits,” said Marian Blankenship, executive director of PacificSource’s Foundation for Health Improvement.
The funding will span from one to two years for the following nonprofits:
In addition to these new grants, the PacificSource Foundation made multi-year installments for Adelante Mujeres, Children’s Home Society, and all of the clinics participating in the Healthcare Access Partner’s Program (HcAP).
About PacificSource Foundation for Health Improvement
Founded in 1992, the PacficSource Foundation for Health Improvement is an expression of our commitment to our communities. Its mission is to improve community health through the touchstones of better health, better care, and lower healthcare costs. The Foundation’s grants and partnerships focus on improving access to healthcare for vulnerable populations and promoting health excellence via innovative care and community health and wellness programs. For more information, visit http://bit.ly/2yK92qF
About PacificSource Health Plans
PacificSource Health Plans is an independent, regional, not-for-profit community health plan serving the Northwest. Founded in 1933, PacificSource is based in Springfield with local offices throughout Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. The PacificSource family of companies employs 1,100 people, serves more than 320,000 individuals, and has 3,900 employer clients throughout the Northwest. For more information visit PacificSource.com.
A Bellingham farmer has been assessed $7,500 in civil penalties for discharging animal waste into a restored creek, killing native Puget Sound steelhead, a threatened species.
The NOAA Office of General Counsel last month assessed the penalty against Harold Carbee for discharging organic waste into Anderson Creek near Bellingham in May 2018. Anderson Creek supports steelhead and salmon and flows into the Nooksack River, a drinking water source for the city of Lynden.
NOAA and Carbee settled the case for a reduced penalty of $6,750.
The case began when a local citizen reported wastewater flowing into the creek, and became a joint investigation by NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Law Enforcement, the Ferndale Police Department, Nooksack Indian Tribe, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Washington Department of Ecology. The penalty was issued under provisions of the Endangered Species Act that allow for civil penalties for violations.
The spill into the creek lasted at least 12 hours. The investigation found more than 300 dead fish including 89 threatened steelhead smolts, coho salmon, and other species. The spill affected an area of the creek with nine steelhead nests, or redds.
Anderson Creek has been the focus of some $9 million in restoration funding for two new bridge crossings that improve passage for threatened Puget Sound steelhead.
“We owe it to everyone who works on salmon and steelhead recovery to make sure their hard work does not go to waste,” said Greg Busch, Assistant Director for NOAA Fisheries- Office of Law Enforcement, West Coast Division. “Restored habitat such as Anderson Creek is the key to the recovery of these fish, and we need to protect it.”