BLM announces availability of the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Tri-state Fuel Breaks Project
Vale, Ore. and Boise, Idaho – The Bureau of Land Management is announcing the availability of a Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Tri-state Fuel Breaks Project, an effort to reduce flammable vegetation adjacent to roadways. Fuel breaks provide safe anchor points for firefighters and strategic opportunities to more effectively limit the spread of wildfires.
This project is part of a larger national wildfire reduction strategy guided by President Trump’s Executive Order 13855 – Promoting Active Management of America’s Forests, Rangelands, and Other Federal Lands to Improve Conditions and Reduce Wildfire Risk, as well as Secretary’s Order 3372 – Reducing Wildfire Risks on Department of the Interior Land through Active Management.
The project area consists of about 3.6 million acres of land within Malheur County, Oregon, and Owyhee County, Idaho. Wildfires are the primary threat to this region’s sagebrush-steppe habitat, one of the largest strongholds for Greater sage-grouse. This landscape-level project supports both sagebrush-dependent wildlife and traditional land uses, such as ranching and recreation. This strategic system of fuel breaks will integrate with existing fuel breaks in northeastern Nevada to improve firefighting efficiency.
“The Tri-state Fuel Breaks Project will provide wildland firefighters with additional opportunities to contain wildfires and reduce impacts to working landscapes and wildlife habitat,” said BLM Deputy Director for Policy and Programs William Perry Pendley. “These fuel breaks will also improve safety for first responders, including Rangeland Fire Protection Associations and others in the firefighting community.”
The Final EIS outlines five alternatives, including a No Action Alternative (no fuel breaks). Under the four action alternatives, fuel breaks would only be implemented alongside existing roads and would extend up to 200 feet on both sides of roadways on BLM-administered lands. Fire suppression experts identified roads based on their strategic importance for accessing and responding to wildland fires.
The Final EIS introduces the preferred alternative, Alternative 5, which proposes a strategic fuel break network that addresses impacts to wildlife and cultural resources based on the analysis in the Draft EIS and comments received during the comment period. This alternative modifies the fuel break network from routes analyzed in the Draft EIS under Alternatives 2, 3, and 4. The preferred alternative would result in a fuel break network of 47,213 acres along 987 miles of existing roads.
The 30-day availability period in which the public can review the Final EIS begins April 3, 2020, with the EPA’s publication of a Notice of Availability in the Federal Register. The Final EIS and supporting information is available online at https://go.usa.gov/xPruu (case sensitive). If you are unable to access the documents online and would like a paper copy, please contact the BLM Boise District Office at 208-384-3300.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 western states, including Alaska, on behalf of the American people. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. Our mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.