Boise braces for floods

  Sandbags may have replaced mountain bikes as the "in" thing for Boise residents this fall. Forty thousand sandbags were recently snapped up by homeowners and businesses after the city's public works department offered them to the public to ward off possible floods and mud slides this winter. City officials say an August fire that denuded the foothills above town spurred their decision to provide the bags.

Ironically, it was a city employee who started the fire. The temperature was 104 degrees at the police firing range when a Boise officer using tracer ammunition ignited the blaze.

With the soil in poor condition to absorb water, scientists believe that above-average rains could cause a 100-year flood condition, says the BLM's Janielle Smith. Resource managers are digging 80 miles of trenches, re-contouring the landscape and using straw-bale check dams in an attempt to slow runoff, she says. Re-seeding of the 14,000-acre burn is planned for the spring.

*John Rosapepe

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