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Wildfire fighters train for the season

Wildfire fighters train for the season

Wildfire season is underway but what does it take to brave the front lines and fight those fires?

Stepping up to fight wildfires is a bold move.

"You pretty much dedicated your summer if you decide to do this," said Veronica Naccarato, wildfire fighter.

Not to mention the danger. Veronica Naccarato has been fighting fires for five seasons.

Friday she helped train more than 30 new firefighters.

"I started what's called a practice fire, just kind of gets them prepared for going out in a real life fire," said Naccarato.

The live burn exercise is the last part to a week long intensive training program.

Veteran firefighters say it is the most important test of the week.

"Live fire exercises at these guard schools are extremely important because once they leave here training is over and as soon as tomorrow they could be on an actual wildfire," said Josh Tellessen, wildfire fighter.

The trainees are from agencies throughout the area. Their ages range from 18 to 60, some are college students and others are just passionate about the environment, but now they all have the same goal.

Health Department begins West Nile testing

Health Department begins West Nile testing

From the Washington State Department of Health:


The Department of Health is again monitoring for West Nile virus through mosquito testing and collecting reports of certain types of dead birds. The virus is now well-established in some areas of the state. West Nile virus typically becomes active in the spring and summer during mosquito season when the insects feed on infected birds.

New York chef praises WSU wheat breeding

New York chef praises WSU wheat breeding

From WSU News:


If Dan Barber had his way, there would be a wheat breeder like Stephen Jones in every corner of every state. Jones features prominently in the new New York Times bestseller, “The Third Plate: Field Notes on the Future of Food,” written by Barber, chef and owner of Blue Hill in Manhattan and Blue Hill at Stone Barns Food and Agriculture Center in Pocantico Hills, N.Y.

 

Fungus, pests afflict Northwest's ponderosa pines

Foresters say pests and fungal infections are afflicting the region's ponderosa pines, and while they seldom kill the trees, they do worry landowners.

The Spokesman-Review reports that the unsightly appearance of the trees is being caused by fungal infections and tiny insects called pine scale that thrive during cool, moist conditions. Pine scale can look like paint spatters, while fungi are identified by black or brown splotches on the needles.

Steve McConnell, a Washington State University Extension forester in Spokane, says he's getting two to three calls per day from panicky landowners. But he says that if trees are otherwise healthy, they should recover no problem.

State Department of Natural Resources officer Guy Gifford says the outbreaks are typically not so widespread. This year, he's seeing acres of affected trees, and he says that is unusual.





Washington sees spike in pesticide related illnesses

Washington sees spike in pesticide related illnesses

From the Washington State Department of Health:


There have been 15 potential pesticide drift events resulting in about 60 people getting ill reported to the Washington State Department of Health in the past two months– that’s as many the agency normally sees in a year.

Burn permits required in Idaho starting May 10th

Burn permits required in Idaho starting May 10th

From the Idaho Department of Lands:

Fungus that causes fever found in state

A fungus that can launch a fatal illness has been found for the first time in the soil of Washington.

Officials for Washington State University say the fungus can cause an illness called valley fever. The fungus is normally found in semiarid parts of the Southwest.

Valley fever occurs when the soil-dwelling fungus becomes airborne, releasing spores that get lodged in the lungs of humans and certain animals, especially dogs.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates it kills 160 people a year.

Three unrelated cases were diagnosed in Eastern Washington in 2010-11.

Scientists for Washington State say that soil samples taken recently from the vicinity tested positive for the fungus, proving it can survive here. All three people who got sick in Eastern Washington survived.