The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is looking for helicopter and pilot services for its fire control bases in Cloquet, Princeton and Roseau. The agency routinely solicits bids from vendors at the state's eight firefighting bases.
The aircraft are used to transport firefighters and equipment, and to suppress fires using aerial water buckets.
Sheldon Mack, the DNR's wildfire aviation supervisor for the forestry division, said extreme drought across the state means the helicopter crews might be needed even more.
"I've kind of given up on predicting spring fire seasons," he said, "because it tends to be more about spring rainfall, but certainly we're set up with very little snow and very droughty going in, so unless we get some very significant precipitation between now and then, it could be a very active spring fire season.
Mack said pilots must have a minimum of 1,500 hours of flight time. The DNR will accept bids from helicopter vendors until early next month.
The agency is responsible for fire protection on nearly 17 million acres of forest land.