BOISE -- The national fire preparedness level is now at its highest point, level five.
Fire managers said that means the high number of wildfires has resources almost pushed to the limit, and there's a high probability severe conditions will continue for the next few days. This is just the 5th time in last 10 years that we've been at level five.
Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) said it further proves this nation's fire prevention policies just aren't working, and it's time for a change.
The federal government's policy for fire prevention is broken, said Wyden.
He explained that we're in a downward spiral of funding that's already started this year. Money is taken from prevention efforts to actually fight fires, leaving public lands more susceptible to fire next season. That usually means even more firefighting funds need to be taken from the prevention coffers the next year.
If you spend more time preventing fires, you can spend less time putting them out, said Wyden.
These senators came from both sides of the aisle and said the solution is collaboration between federal, state and local governments to thin forests and fuel, rehabilitate wildlife habitat and increase logging.
When a raging fire hits a small western community, people just come together, said Wyden. They don't talk about Democrats and Republicans and people's philosophies. They just come together, they put the fire out and figure out how to pick up the pieces. So, what we're going to do as western members of congress, is take that message back to Washington, D.C.
But is that realistic with admitted gridlock in Congress? Risch, recognized by some as the most conservative in the U.S. Senate, said, 'Yes.' And, he's already seen it when dealing with environmental groups.
The environmental movement in America has matured over the past 40 years, said Risch. They understand that these fires are not good for anybody... and, indeed, they are awful for environment.
The senators point to forest health projects already underway in eastern Oregon and Idaho, agreed on by environmentalists, logging companies and government agencies.
There are a lot of us who are willing to quit the blame game and find solutions, said Crapo.
He adds that with budget, sequester and debt ceiling battles looming in Congress in the fall, the timing for this reform could be perfect.
Further emphasizing the need for this reform, NIFC says their fire season is now year-round, where every day of the year, some area of the country is dealing with wildfire.