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December 14, 2007

    Lesley A. Collins, 

BLM Completes EA for 
Hazardous Fuel Management in Johnson County

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Buffalo Field Office has completed an environmental assessment (EA) addressing timber and hazardous fuels management on the Horn area in southern Johnson County, Wyo.

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The EA analyzes the impacts associated with BLM’s proposal to issue a road right of way over four miles of BLM-administered public land, and authorize salvage logging on about 500 acres of timber killed by wind storms or insect and disease outbreak. The road right-of-way will be used by a timber purchaser to access and haul timber harvested on BLM, State, and private land.

The effects of implementing a long-term comprehensive forest and hazardous fuels management program on 4,000 acres of public land forest is also addressed in the EA. BLM proposed this long-term forest management program in conjunction with their response to a blow down of timber that occurred in early June 2007. BLM forestry and fuels specialists noted a number of sites where insect infestation, disease, and overcrowded trees had compromised forest health. They also noted that hazardous fuels had accumulated in many of the timber stands making them highly susceptible to catastrophic loss from wildland fire.

A wide range of management alternative are addressed in the EA including salvage and commercial timber harvest, forest thinning (timber stand improvement), and removal or treatment of hazardous forest fuels using prescribed fire and mechanical treatments. Over a 20-year period, BLM estimates that the forest and fuels treatments would occur on a maximum 3,000 acres and no more than 300 acres per year.

In addition to the BLM’s preferred alternative to implement comprehensive forest and fuels management, BLM considered and analyzed two other alternatives. One alternative would have emphasized use of prescribed fire to achieve the desired forest health and fuel conditions. Another alternative considered the effects of not changing (no action) the present management, consisting primarily of conducting salvage timber sales in response to individual outbreaks of fire, insect, disease, and wind damaged timber.

Copies of the EA are available at the BLM Buffalo Field Office, 1425 Fort St., Buffalo, Wyo 82834, (307) 684-1100.