BLM Issues Decision on Vegetation Treatment and Fuels Reduction
Management and control of vegetation on public lands is an important facet of the BLM’s multiple-use mission. To better meet this responsibility, in 2001 the BLM launched an effort to develop a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) containing national guidance for using herbicides and other vegetation treatments on BLM-administered public lands in 17 western states.
The study responded to direction from the President and Congress in the National Fire Plan and the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003 to more aggressively reducing the risk of catastrophic on public lands.
Vegetation treatments are also an important part of the Department of Interior's Healthy Lands Initiative to undertake landscape-level restoration for enhancement of sensitive wildlife habitat and continued multiple use of public lands.
The Vegetation Treatments Programmatic EIS replaces analyses contained in four existing Environmental Impact Statements completed between 1986 and 1992 for 14 Western states, and adds analysis of vegetation treatments in two other Western states and Alaska.
The PEIS is a comprehensive National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) document that BLM field-level staff can use during local land-use and project planning. The accompanying Programmatic Environmental Report (PER) provides an assessment of the expected impacts of the use of herbicides and other vegetation treatment methods - including prescribed fire, mechanical, manual and biological - on up to 6 million acres of public land per year.
The Final PEIS will guide the BLM’s actions to treat vegetation on approximately 932,000 acres annually in 17 western states in the United States, including Alaska, using 14 currently approved and four new herbicide active-ingredients.
The Final PER will guide the treatment of 5.1 million acres by other means, including prescribed fire and manual, mechanical, and biological methods.
Together, these treatments will reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires by reducing hazardous fuels and restoring fire-damaged lands; improve ecosystem health by controlling weeds and invasive plant species, and managing vegetation to benefit fish and wildlife habitat; improve riparian and wetlands areas; and improve water quality in priority watersheds.
The BLM uses herbicides selectively and conservatively in combination with other treatment methods to achieve specific goals. Once the natural cycles and ecological systems of an area are re-established, herbicide use can be reduced and eventually may be eliminated in favor of other, non-chemical means of control, such as mechanical or manual removal of vegetation and biological control.
Vegetation PEIS Project Webpage (Final PEIS, Final PER and ROD in .pdf)
Draft PEIS Documents
BLM Office of Fire and Aviation
NEWS: BLM Post-Fire Season Land Rehabilitation Efforts
National Fire Plan
Healthy Lands Initiative (HLI)
BLM Sage-Grouse and Sagebrush Habitat Conservation
Healthy Forests Initiative (HFI)