More information available about BLM Programmatic EIS

Programmatic BLM EIS

Above: BLM map for the programmatic fuel management EIS. The cross-hatched area identifies the Project Boundary. The small dots near the names of cities identifies the locations of Scoping Meetings.

(Originally published at 1:30 p.m. MST January 11, 2017)

When the Bureau of Land Management announced on December 22 the agency was going to write two blanket Programmatic Environmental Impact Statements to streamline fuel treatment projects in much of the Western United States, the web site they referred the public to for more information had zero information. This presented a problem since the since the deadline to comment was initially February 20. After we inquired on January 2 about where interested citizens could find out what the BLM planned to do, we heard back from them today, January 11, saying they have now posted some information at the site.

BLM fuel break
BLM fuel break. BLM photo.

We checked and found the map shown at the top of this article. There is also a Notice of Intent, Bulletin, and a list of public meetings.

The agency is proposing to develop two Programmatic Environmental Impact Statements for BLM lands in the states of Idaho, Oregon, Nevada, California, Utah, and Washington. One will cover the construction of fuel breaks while the other is for fuels reduction and rangeland restoration.

Now that they have a schedule for public meetings which runs through February 15, the deadline for comments has been extended to February 28.

The blanket approval will mean that individual landscape-scale fuel breaks and fuel reduction proposals will only need minor additional environmental reviews to proceed.

Fuel breaks are intended to interrupt the continuity of vegetation making it easier to control or stop the spread of wildfires.  They can be created manually by hand crews and mechanized equipment, or through the use of herbicides. There is no guarantee of success since wind-blown burning embers can be lofted hundreds or thousands of feet ahead of a flaming front, crossing the breaks.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills. Google+

2 thoughts on “More information available about BLM Programmatic EIS”

  1. Gee. That’s a huge area. The photos they provided don’t really help clarify – who needs a dead zone fuel break out in low scrub nowhere for a hundred miles? (i.e. who needs to pay for all that?) Will the big winners be the designated herbicide supplying company/ies? Just wondering ‘aloud.’ The zika excitement reportedly permitted pesticide waivers to rush-rush to spray a neurotoxin from airplanes over human-populated areas (not an authorized use by the label) to kill a species of mosquito that is known to prefer to live in sheltered indoors, for a problem that wasn’t even properly proved to actually exist in the United States. Totally ignoring the known facts of that mosquito species, the naled pesticide was blanket-applied, in one case, resulting in killing millions of agricultural honeybees instead – out in the fields of course – where the targeted mosquito doesn’t live.
    Given this recent unfortunate example of government exempting from normal procedures, mis-use that reportedly did cause damage, (and no one knows how many birds and bats were killed) a bit skeptical about the wisdom of blanket/stream-lined approvals when destructive actions are involved – herbicides, burns, bulldozing… Much of this land is leased by ranchers, who would have done a lot more improvements over the years had they been allowed to. Hope lots of people who are able to make sense of the charts, the maps and the confusing jargon can help make this massive proposal understandable and transparent to the public.

  2. Just wondering why they did not include Montana or South Dakota ,for that matter . I guess they forgot that there were major fires and BLM land in those states ??

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