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Grangeville Smokejumpers Join Forces With National Park Service

by Mike Blinn |

The Grangeville Smokejumper Program has joined forces with the National Park Service in an effort to increase training efficiency in Idaho County. Utilizing a Special Use Permit, the Grangeville Smokejumpers have come to an agreement with the Nez Perce National Historical Park located in Spalding.

Scott Eckberg (NPNHP Unit Manager), Jason Lyons (NPNHP Resource Program Manager) and Chris Young (Grangeville Smokejumper Base Manager) reached an agreement allowing parachute landings on the Historic White Bird Battlefield.

This opportunity will challenge smokejumper students and allow each student to gain experience in high wind and steep terrain. It decreases flight time compared to other areas where the jumpers could take advantage of these features in the Grangeville area.

The Special Use Permit allowed for a five-day opportunity for the smokejumper trainers to use the historic battlefield as a landing zone for students. The battlefield provided an area for students to focus on high winds and rough terrain without the obstacles of trees.

The students will move through a progression of jump spots that will start with the basics of canopy manipulation for winds and steep hillside landings. They will then progress with more obstacles that will fine tune the skills of each student for rougher terrain and tall timber.

The White Bird Battlefield has long made history since its beginning on June 17, 1877. The smokejumpers felt as if they were making history of their own by having the privilege to land on the pristine land scape and experiencing the historic hillsides and challenging wind conditions.

Base Manager Chris Young would like to thank the managers of the National Park Service as well as all the private land owners that have helped in this year’s smokejumper training. Nationally, the Smokejumper Program has increased training to meet the needs of the upcoming fire season.