Wildland fire management is an important program in the Bruneau Field Office. The size and frequency of wildfire have increased substantially across southern Idaho during the last 30 years, as cheatgrass and other flammable weeds have displaced native plant communities. The increase in wildfire undermines rangeland health, depletes wildlife habitat and threatens farms, ranches and communities.
Fire Management Objectives
Idaho BLM’s fire management program has four major components: wildland fire suppression, fuels treatment, fire rehabilitation, and community assistance and protection. The overarching goals and objectives for these components are established in national policy and in land use plans prepared for the Bruneau Field Office. Implementation strategies, priorities and procedures are then developed in more detailed Fire Management Plans (FMPs), which are prepared for each Idaho BLM district office.
The Bruneau Field Office is part of the Boise District Fire Management Plan (FMP), which was prepared in 2004 and updated in 2005. The FMP addresses fire management for BLM’s Owyhee, Bruneau, and Four Rivers Field Offices. The FMP identifies the key fire management priorities for the Bruneau Field Office as: 1) Supporting historical values of the Silver City area, 2) Defending crucial wildlife habitat, and 3) Protecting riparian habitat areas.
There are four Fire Management Zones (FMZs) in the Bruneau Field Office. FMZs are identified for distinct vegetation communities in order to effectively and efficiently control fires in different regions. Fire is desirable in the higher elevations areas, while fire is undesirable in the lower elevations.
The Role of Prescribed Burns
Bruneau BLM suppresses fires and performs prescribed burns in plant community areas that would benefit from fire. Prescribed burns are often used to remove areas of dense juniper, which choke out native grasses, sagebrush, and aspen within the sagebrush steppe. Prescribed burns are also used to stimulate plant growth, change species composition and reduce amounts of fuels and woody debris.
The majority of prescribed burns in this area have been performed in the Upper Castle Creek area. In areas with dense populations of native mountain mahogany, a desirable woody species, fire management specialists use mechanical treatments rather than prescribed burns to remove juniper, in order to avoid impacts to plant communities that would not respond well to prescribed burns. Overall, mechanical treatment is more frequently used than prescribed burns.
*Learn more about wildland fire and prescribed burns.
Bruneau Field Office | 3948 Development Avenue | Boise, ID 83705
208-384-3300 | Fax: 208-384-3493 | Office hours: 7:45am - 4:30pm, M-F