Trump Administration streamlines review of salvage timber projects and pinyon-juniper removal to reduce threat of catastrophic wildfires
projects across the West designed to address the rapid spread of pinyon-juniper woodlands on sagebrush habitat
“More than 130,000 acres burned in my county in September and a lot of it has dead or dying but salvageable timber still standing on it. The economic value disappears very rapidly due to insects and rot, so expediting NEPA work is essential,” said Douglas County Oregon Commissioner and President of the Association of O&C Counties Tim Freeman. “We thank the DOI for finalizing a Categorical Exclusion that will allow the BLM to move more quickly.”
“The removal of encroaching pinon pine and juniper into sagebrush habitat has proven to significantly improve habitat for mule deer and other wildlife,” said Miles Moretti, President/CEO of the Mule Deer Foundation. “In addition, the ability to move quickly after wildfires can be the difference in successful restoration of big-game winter ranges and other important wildlife habitats. The judicious use of categorical exclusions can reduce the amount of time for project implementation and jump start recovery.”
“The new 3,000-acre Categorical Exclusion would accelerate actions the public already broadly supports: recovering dead and dying trees after a fire, insect infestation, and other catastrophic events; converting dead timber into sustainable wood products we all use while creating jobs and revenue for local services; improving forest health and reducing future public safety risks; and ensuring there’s a forest for the next generation,” stated American Forest Resource Council President/CEO Travis Joseph. “After Western Oregon’s deadly and devastating wildfire season that torched more than 125,000 acres of BLM-managed forests, this is a timely and critical tool that should be supported by all those who care about our forests, impacted communities, and their recovery.”
“The finalized categorical exclusion authority to expedite post fire salvage projects could not have come too soon,” said Communities for Healthy Forests Executive Director Javier Goirigolzarri. “We have all seen the horrific images of the hundreds of thousands of acres of complete mortality resulting from this fire season. Many of those are BLM managed forestlands. This authority will allow the BLM to take a triage approach by focusing salvage projects on the most critical areas to reduce future fire threats, ensure firefighter safety, reforest lands where all seed-bearing trees were killed and ensure the return of a healthy, vibrant, productive landscape within decades, not centuries.”
“The ability to treat up to 10,000 acres versus 250 acres found in this categorical exclusion will dramatically improve the ability of land managers to begin to step up the need to not only reduce fire loads, but to also increase the pace and scale of forest restoration efforts in those areas that are still prone to insect, disease and catastrophic fire events,” stated American Loggers Council Executive Vice President Daniel J. Dructor.
“We applaud the efforts of the Bureau of Land Management to finalize new categorical exclusions under the National Environmental Policy Act that streamline review for routine timber salvage sales,” stated Montana Wood Products Association Executive Director Julia Altemus. “The use of categorial exclusions, as a tool to address the critical need to reduce the risk of wildfire, is pivotal in improving forest health and addressing climate change. We look forward to working with the BLM as they seek to implement categorical exclusions on their timberlands.”
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.