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U.S. Department of the Interior

Bureau of Land Management


Part 6

PUBLIC HEALTH, SAFETY, AND RESOURCE PROTECTION

In addition to 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 household and hazardous wastes, theft and destruction of Federal property, misuse of resources, and wildland fires.

Table 6-1 summarizes the numbers of wildland fires and acres burned on BLM lands and lands protected by BLM through cooperative agreements with local fire protection agencies.  Fire activity on BLM lands was below normal in 1998, mainly due to the effects of El Niņo.  Consequently, an above-normal 1999 fire season was not unexpected.  However, record setting heat and moisture deficits in the West resulted in near record-level fire activity in California and the Great Basin states. In fact, the 1999 fire season ranked among the three most active fire years of the decade for number of fires, acres burned, and mobilization of fire resources.  Major commitments of resources extended far into the month of October.

Table 6-2 identifies the major types of capital investments on public lands.  Roads, trails, recreation sites, and other improvements give the public access to public lands.  In 1998 the Administration and Congress were committed to reducing the backlog for deferred maintenance and construction projects.  The Bureau began an aggressive re-inventory and condition assessment program to update its Facilities Inventory and Maintenance Management System (FIMMS) database and prepare a Five-Year Deferred Maintenance Plan.  Additionally, BLM conducted re-inventories and condition assessment surveys of recreation sites.  In 1999, the emphasis was on assessing administrative sites and major trail systems, especially trails of historical significance.

Table 6-3 summarizes releases of hazardous substances and other pollutants and contaminants discovered on public lands.  Historically, approximately 60 percent of all hazardous substance releases on public lands have resulted from commercial operations, primarily at landfills, mines, mill sites, airstrips, and oil and gas sites.  The other 40 percent have been caused by illegal activities, such as midnight dumping of agricultural and industrial wastes, wire burning, and illicit drug production.  About one third of the hazardous substance releases found in 1999 were trespass dumping incidents.  Many involved relatively low-cost, short-term cleanups.  Over half of the on-going, longer-term environmental studies and cleanups are at inactive or abandoned mines.

 6-1 Fires on or Threatening BLM Lands 99pl6-1.pdf
 6-2 Capital Improvements on Public Lands 99pl6-2.pdf
 6-3 Releases of Hazardous Substances on Public Lands 99pl6-3.pdf

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