U.S. Department of the Interior

Bureau of Land Management


Part 6

PUBLIC HEALTH, SAFETY, AND RESOURCE PROTECTION

Beyond preserving and protecting natural and cultural resources, BLM's stewardship responsibilities extend to protecting public health, safety, and property. The Bureau is responsible for protecting public lands from trespass dumping of solid and hazardous wastes, theft and destruction of Federal property, misuse of resources, and wildland fires. After the 1996 fire season, one of the worst on record, favorable weather conditions brought welcome relief in 1997.

Table 6-1 summarizes wildland fires suppressed and acres burned on BLM lands and other lands protected by the BLM through agreements with other fire protection agencies. The 1997 data show a substantial decrease in wildland fire activity and acreage burned compared to the 1996 fire season. (The number of acres burned in 1996 was much greater than in a normal fire season.) Overall, wildland fire activity in 1997 was slightly below average. Favorable weather was the primary factor.

Table 6-2 identifies capital improvements on public lands. Roads, trails, recreation sites, and other improvements make public lands accessible to the public and provide opportunities for their use and enjoyment. Over the years, the Bureau has made large capital investments to meet the ever-growing demands of customers. The data indicate very few new capital improvement projects during fiscal year 1997. This is because the BLM needs to devote available resources to maintaining existing capital improvements. Public and visitor safety is the highest maintenance priority.

Table 6-3 shows the extent of releases of hazardous substances and other pollutants and contaminants discovered on public lands. The public lands provide opportunities for a variety of commercial uses and, at times, illegal activities. Both commercial and illegal activities have led to releases of hazardous substances and creation of hazardous waste sites. Over 60 percent of all hazardous waste sites on public lands result from commercial uses. Landfills, mines, and mill sites account for almost half of these; airstrips and oil and gas sites make up the remainder of the hazardous waste sites arising from commercial activities. Trespass dumping is the illegal activity responsible for almost 40 percent of all hazardous waste sites discovered to date.

 6-1 Fires on or threatening BLM lands  PDF  
 6-2 Capital improvements on public lands  PDF  
 6-3 Release of hazardous substances on public lands  PDF  

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