Wildfire Prevention and Education
The Bureau of Indian Affairs and Tribal Wildfire Prevention programs across the country provide leadership, training and guidance to develop strategies to reduce the number of human caused fires on Indian Reservations. Prevention program staff work closely with tribal leaders and communities to:
- Implement reservation wide burn permit systems
- Raise public awareness regarding human caused fires
- Develop community wildfire protection plans
- Invite community involvement to mitigate wildfire activity
- Implement youth fire setter intervention programs
- Conduct origin and cause wildfire investigations
- Develop or revise Tribal Law and Order Codes pertaining to wildfire crimes.
- Develop trespass cases from resource damaging wildfires
Recent Events (Last Updated: April 8, 2013)
January 23 Gallup, New Mexico - Special Agent Jonathan Whitefoot, Prevention Specialist, Kenny Jaramillo, and Judith Okulitch attended the District IV BIA/Tribal Chiefs Quarterly Meeting to give a presentation to the Police Chiefs on the incidence of youth-set fires on Tribal lands and the youth fire intervention program. As part of their presentation, they discussed New Mexico's 2012 wildfire season, one of the most destrictive in history. Several wildfires that occured were on Tribal land or near sacred Tribal sites. One such wildfire that burned near the town of Ruidoso was started by two teenagers with fireworks. It destroyed five homes and 10,000 acres, demonstrating how dangerous a youth-set fire can be.
Following the meeting, Whitefoot, Jaramillo and Okulitch met with Firefighters and fire investigators from Fort Deviance Fire and Rescue, a Navajo Forestry Deptment Official, representatives from the National Indian Youth Leadership Project and the Navajo Nation Program for Self Reliance to learn about the BIA Youth Fire Intervention Program, and to build awareness and partnership that will help address the youth fire problem in the Southwest Region of Indian Country.
Photo: Kenneth Jaramillo, Duwayne Honahni and Judith Okulitch
The largest fire in Indian Country history, the Rodeo-Chediski, was an intentionally set wildfire. This fire burned across 450,000 acres, destroyed more than 400 structures and cost over $100 million dollars to put out. The damages done tribal resources will last for generations and can not be measured.
The BIA and the tribes are especially concerned with how to deal with these fires because arson is the main source of wildfires in Indian Country. All citizens deserve to have a safe, fire-free community. That is why the BIA teamed up with WeTip, a national non-profit organization that offers a 24/7 telephone tip hotline (1-800-472-7766) for people to report information anonymously. A financial reward up to $10,000 is available to those who provide information that leads to proper adjudication of criminal activity associated with wildfires. To learn more about the WeTip program, visit www.WeTip.com.
If you or anyone you know has information pertaining to suspicious wildfires occurring on or near Indian Lands, call 1-800-472-7766 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to confidentially report your information.
Arson is not a part of Indian Culture! It is a crime against Indian people.