BLM Manages Potential Fire Hazards at Campbell Tract
The recent spruce bark beetle epidemic left many dead and dying white spruce trees in the Anchorage Bowl, including the Campbell Tract. Of the trees still living, many of them greater than eight inches in diameter could eventually die from the beetle attacks. As these dead trees fall, less susceptible younger spruce and birch will replace the mature spruce. This beetle epidemic has increased the danger of wild fires in the area. If there is a fire and it escapes Campbell Tract, the surrounding area will be threatened. Similarly, fire from the surrounding area could threaten the Campbell Tract.
In August 2001, the BLM began creating a defensible space around facilities with the goal of creating an effective fuel break that was aesthetically pleasing. To accomplish this they removed hazardous fuels from within one and one half the height (40 to 60 feet) of the dominant tree species, dead white and black spruce and dense black spruce stands. Hazard trees were removed one tree height from the edge of a trail or road surface on recreation and access roads. Live hardwoods were not cut. Black and white spruce stands were thinned to a minimum spacing of six feet and all dead trees in a corridor 80-feet wide were removed. The lower branches on the remaining spruce trees were pruned to five feet to eliminate ladder fuels. These breaks help reduce the encroachment or escape of a wildland fire to and/or from Campbell Tract. Slash was then transported to a central location for chipping and disposal or burning as weather permitted.
The lack of snow in Winter 2002/2003 did not allow BLM to burn the remaining slash piles from the construction of the fuel break. Burning is on hold until next winter.
The Municipality of Anchorage (MOA) is using Congressional grants to put in fuel breaks throughout the Anchorage Bowl and the BLM's project was coordinated with MOA to make a better more viable fuel break.