Interior Secretary Sally Jewell says the nation is heading into a tough wildfire season made even more challenging because budget cuts mean fewer firefighters to battle blazes.
Jewell said Monday that a dry year is creating the potential for another extreme summer of forest and range fires.
Jewell spent the past two days touring the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise. She was joined by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who said a 7.5 percent cut to the 2013 U.S. Forest Service budget means 500 fewer firefighters on the ground this year.
Even before Monday's visit, fire experts were predicting a grim scenario for this summer's fire season. A dry winter and early warming is creating heightened potential for West Coast states, central Idaho, Montana, Arizona and New Mexico.