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Dry weather over Malheur County proves worrisome for federal fire managers

Al Crouch, the fire mitigation/education specialist for the Vale District of the Bureau of Land Management points to a section of dry ground on a nearby knoll last week. Dry conditions are prevalent across the high desert. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell).

VALE – Al Crouch leaned over and pushed the sagebrush leaves away until his hands clutched a batch of what looked like dried twigs.

Then he rubbed the twigs together in the palm of his hand. Dust and dirt erupted into a faint brown cloud.

“See it? Not supposed to be that dry,” he said.

Crouch, the fire mitigation/education specialist for the Vale District of the Bureau of Land Management, knows the high desert plateau of Malheur County like the back of his hand.

He knows this too: The desert landscape . . .