With the intense 2012 fire season burned into their minds, KOTA Territory fire bosses are already busy gearing up for this year's fire danger.
One major goal is to build two new Single-Engine Air Tanker bases in Nebraska to help spread retardant more quickly in hot spots on the border.
The Wildland Fire Suppression team is also asking the state for more funding to squash outbreaks with more manpower.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard proposed some extra money in his budget to hire additional firefighters in leadership roles, and officials also plan to bring seasonal firefighters on board earlier than in previous years.
"We'll be bringing on our temporary workforce maybe a month or six weeks earlier than what we normally do. Get them all trained up and ready to go," said Wildland Fire director Jay Esperance. "We're stable with the numbers that we have, just getting them on sooner."
The legislature still has to look at the governor's budget, but lawmakers familiar with forest management in the western part of the state say it's likely the Appropriations Committee will see the funding as a priority.
"In light of the fact that ... we're in a drought and the Hills have so many beetle-infested trees," said Don Kopp, a Republican representative from District 35 and a forestry consultant, "which themselves promote a unique fire danger."
The state Department of Agriculture will present its fire funding recommendations to the Appropriations Committee on Jan. 25.