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Idaho budget writers back wildfire funding boost

Cougar Fire1

The Cougar Fire in central Idaho last summer. File photo.

A proposal designating an extra $379,000 to fight wildfires in Idaho has jumped over its initial hurdle in clearing the state Legislature.

The Joint Finance and Appropriations budget committee unanimously approved the measure Jan. 14. The state Land Board says that the proposal would draw equally from the general fund and dedicated fire protection funds.

The money would be used to provide one full time assistant fire warden and three part time employees. It would also increase the pay scale of the seasonal workforce, while extending 12 firefighting positions from five months to eight months.

State Land Board officials say the money is needed because they expect to face another devastating wildfire season.

The measure still has to pass both the House and Senate floors before it’s presented to the governor.

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