Montana forest fires are reported to and coordinated through a National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. That hub and other firefighting operations have a new national director. USDA Forest Service last week announced that Jerry Perez is now the national director of fire and aviation management, which includes Boise.

Perez is looking at quite a job description. The "fire and aviation" area includes response to wildfires, of course, but there's more. There's workforce management, budget, risk management and rules, landscape management, essential partnerships and fire information details.

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Since former director Shawn Legarza retired, the position has been temporarily filled by Helena-Lewis and Clark Forest Supervisor Bill Avey in Montana, along with retired Klamath Forest Supervisor Patty Grantham and Southwest Region Fire Director Jacob Nuttall.

Perez has also been in the Pacific Northwest, working for the Bureau of Land Management in the Oregon/Washington division. Most recently, he was Forest Supervisor for the Angeles National Forest in Arcadia, California, and has been BLM state director for California.

USDA Forest Service Chief Randy Moore said in a news release, "I welcome Jerry's 32 years of experience and expertise as he leads our outstanding firefighters, and guides the fire and aviation program to meet the challenge of preventing and managing wildfires. He steps into this position as the agency focuses on significantly increasing the pace and scale of hazardous fuels treatments focused in areas that have the highest risks of wildfires and threats to vital infrastructure."

Forest fire seasons have crept into months outside the usual summer and early fall times with wildfires happening almost every month of the year.

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