2017 is being remembered as one of the worst fire seasons in the western U.S. in recent memory.
43 Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest workers are helping to fight wildfires in western states. Chequamegon-Nicolet personnel are supporting efforts in Montana, Oregon, Nevada, California, South Dakota and Washington.
Forest spokesperson Hilary Markin says the people come from a variety of departments...
"...we have a variety of folks that have their fire qualifications. Some maybe wildlife techs, some may be recreation specialists. Some are dedicated fire personnel. Anybody with their qualifications across the Forest is eligible to go out on fire assignments to support the efforts out west....."
Markin says typical fire assignments are for 14 days plus travel and working 16 hour days in harsh conditions including the smoke from the fires, heat, altitude, mountainous terrain and sleeping in tents. Markin says the personnel also include the students from Blackwell Job Corps near Laona...
"....we've had various crews from Blackwell go out, we've had combined crews go out there working in the camps. I mentioned they sleep in tents. There's a whole camp set up where they have a chow line and get their morning briefing. We've had Blackwell personnel supporting the camp efforts and supporting the lines as well..."
The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest maintains a fire staff of 23 people. When not fighting fires, they contribute to the land management duties. They conduct prescribed burns to restore the health of fire-adapted ecosystems and to improve habitat for wildlife, reduce hazardous fuel loading on the National Forest adjacent to private lands, and work with partner agencies on fire preparedness.