On Tuesday U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell signed off on a decision that establishes new policies for the use of aerial fire retardant when fighting wildfires on U.S. Forest Service lands. Tidwell chose one of three alternatives in the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that studied the use of retardant and how it affects water resources and certain plant and wildlife species. The new policy puts buffer zones around waterways and habitat for some threatened, endangered, and sensitive species in order to avoid applying retardant in those areas.
This will result in approximately 30 percent of USFS lands being off limits for retardant while fighting fire. There is an exception if human life or public safety is threatened.
The EIS was written in response to a July, 2010 decision by U. S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy in a lawsuit filed in 2008 by the Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics. The agency began soliciting public input on the EIS in May of last year.
Now firefighters and Air
Tanker Tactical Group Supervisors will have roughly 12,000 maps identifying avoidance areas on 98 National Forest System units that identify locations of waterways and areas for hundreds of plant and animal species. Professional liability insurance anyone?
Link to the EIS documents.
Thanks go out to Dick