BLM releases draft plan to further efforts to conserve and restore sagebrush communities in the Great Basin
BOISE, Idaho – Today, the Bureau of Land Management released the Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for Fuels Reduction and Rangeland Restoration in the Great Basin. This Draft PEIS is intended to further efforts to conserve and restore sagebrush communities within a 223 million-acre area that includes portions of Idaho, Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada and Utah. This plan works in tandem with the BLM’s efforts to construct up to 11,000 miles of fuel breaks in the Great Basin that was finalized by the publication of a Notice of Availability of a Record of Decision on Thursday, April 2.
“Conserving and restoring sagebrush communities in the Great Basin that people rely on for their livelihoods and recreation, and that wildlife depend on for habitat, is a top priority of the BLM,” said Deputy Director, Policy and Programs, Bureau of Land Management William Perry Pendley. “Constructing fuel breaks and reducing fuels to decrease the risk of large and severe wildfires, and implementing rangeland restoration treatments, is critical to maintain the remaining sagebrush communities in the region.”
The Trump Administration has prioritized active management of the nation’s public lands as provided in Executive Order 13855 and Secretary's Order 3372, which establish a meaningful and coordinated framework for ensuring the protection of people, communities, and natural resources. Implementation of both Orders is a priority for reducing the risks of deadly and destructive wildfires.
Sagebrush communities in the Great Basin are a vital part of Western working landscapes and are home to over 350 species of plants and wildlife. Intact sagebrush communities are disappearing within the Great Basin due to increased large and severe wildfires, the spread of invasive annual grasses, and the encroachment of pinyon-juniper. The Great Basin region is losing sagebrush communities faster than they can reestablish naturally. Approximately 45% of the historical range of sagebrush has been lost. Fuels reduction and rangeland restoration treatments can reduce fire severity, increase sagebrush communities’ resistance to invasive annual grasses and improve their ability to recover after wildfires.
The Preferred Alternative outlined in the Draft Fuels Reduction and Rangeland Restoration PEIS analyzes a full suite of manual, chemical and mechanical tools, including prescribed fire, seeding, and targeted grazing to reduce fuels and conserve and restore sagebrush communities. When finalized, the PEIS will not authorize any specific fuels reduction or rangeland restoration projects. Instead, it will analyze common elements of fuels reduction and rangeland restoration projects. Local offices can use this information to comply with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements when planning and analyzing specific projects, allowing for more rapid implementation.
An electronic copy of the Draft PEIS and associated documents is available for public comment for 60 days on the BLM Land Use Planning and NEPA register at https://go.usa.gov/xdfgV If you are unable to access the documents online and would like a paper copy, please contact the project staff by email at BLM_PEIS_Questions@blm.gov or phone at (208) 373-3824.
Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the BLM will provide opportunities for the public to gain additional information, and ask questions, about the Draft PEIS virtually instead of through in-person public meetings. Links to virtual public meeting materials will be available on the BLM Land Use Planning and NEPA register by April 18 at https://go.usa.gov/xdfgV Members of the public will be able to access the materials at their convenience and can email questions to the project staff at BLM_PEIS_Questions@blm.gov
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.