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February 20, 2009

Contact:
   Lorraine Keith, 307-352-0399
   John Christensen, 307-828-4502

BLM Kemmerer sends Gavin Lovell to Australia to help battle wildfires

Gavin Lovell and Richard Putnam checking a fire.

Gavin Lovell and Richard Putnam checking a fire.
Carl Benzanson and Gavin Lovell assessing a fire situation.
Carl Benzanson and Gavin Lovell assessing a fire situation.

An employee from the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Kemmerer Field Office has been deployed to Australia to help battle wildfires.

Gavin Lovell, a wildland firefighter, was among 60 firefighters recently deployed to Australia to help battle wildfires in Victoria State, Australia. Lovell and 28 other experienced firefighters will join 31 other wildland firefighters, logistics personnel and emergency crews already in Australia. Lovell left for Australia on Feb. 13 and could be deployed for 35 days.

The United States and Australia signed a mutual assistance agreement in 2001, and since that time, Australian and the United States firefighters have assisted both countries.

Kemmerer Field Manager John Christensen, said, “We are very proud to be able to have Gavin Lovell, one of our most experienced firefighter and fuels specialists, assisting the people in Victoria during this devastating time of need.”

Department of the Interior wildland firefighters deployed to Australia include18 from BLM; five from the National Park Service; three from the Bureau of Indian Affairs; and three from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The BLM manages more land – 258 million acres – than any other Federal agency.  This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western States, including Alaska.  The Bureau, with a budget of about $1 billion, also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation.  The BLM’s multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.  The Bureau accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural, and other resources on public lands.

-BLM-