Analyses of proposals for the use of prescribed fire will adhere to the requirements of the Clean Air Act and the State Implementation Plan (including the Visibility Protection Plan and Smoke Management Plan). Conformity determinations to evaluate whether BLM actions comply with the State Implementation Plan will be conducted in association with site-specific environmental analysis where emissions can be most reasonably forecasted in quantified terms. These analyses will specifically evaluate the effects of project specific prescribed burning on nonattainment areas.
Accurate assessment of local and airshed level air quality effects of ecosystem management may require cumulative effects analysis reflecting all relevant BLM actions as well as expected actions of other parties. Coordination with other agencies is implicit. Cumulative effects analysis will include consideration of the effects on visibility and regional haze. Where extensive fuel hazard reduction by prescribed burning is considered, the analysis also will consider the impact of prescribed burning on wildfire emissions. This will be done in a quantified tradeoff analysis, comparing emissions from prescribed fire with potential emissions from wildfires if prescribed burning is not accomplished. Factors considered when establishing the geographic boundaries for a cumulative effects analysis include whether the action will result in impacts that cross administrative boundaries, and whether the action will affect sensitive air quality regions (i.e., Class I areas and nonattainment areas). Resultant analysis may be based on airsheds.
Interdisciplinary impact analysis will be tiered within the framework of applicable Environmental Impact Statements (EIS). Tiering is used to prepare more specific documents without duplicating relevant parts of previously prepared general documents. The more specific EA or other environmental analysis cannot lead directly to a change in the decisions based on the more general EIS to which it is tiered. It could, however, result in some interim management direction pending plan revision, or a proposal to amend the plan. If an EA indicates potential for significant impacts that are seriously different from those described in an existing EIS, a new EIS (or supplement to an existing EIS) may be required.
Specific proposals for treatment to manage competing vegetation and for control of noxious weeds will be addressed in site-specific EAs.
Availability of EAs for public review will be announced in a minimum of one, and generally all, of the following ways: