A plan that would create an 11,000-mile fuel break system in the Great Basin was released by the Bureau of Land Management in Boise Friday. It opened a 45-day public comment period. A public meeting is scheduled in Idaho Falls July 17.
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) will review a system of strategically placed fuel breaks intended to control wildfires within a 223 million-acre area that includes portions of Idaho, Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada, and Utah.
“The Department of the Interior is dedicated to leveraging all of its assets to reduce wildfire risk and safeguard western communities,” said Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. “We look forward to receiving feedback from the public on this effort which promises to make a real difference in reducing the wildfire threat.”
The Interior Department says large, unbroken swaths of grass and brush provide a continuous supply of fuel for rangeland fires. Their fuel-break concept would break up that scenario and slow the progress of wildfires, making it safer and easier to control.
The fuel breaks could be brown strips, where all vegetation is removed, green strips where vegetation is replaced with less flammable varieties, and mowing or targeted grazing to reduce vegetation. The fuel breaks would be placed along roads and rights-of-way on BLM lands.
The proposed treatments are part of a larger wildfire reduction strategy guided by one of President Trump’s Executive Orders on reducing wildfire risks.
“Fuel breaks have proven to be very effective in slowing rangeland wildfires, making them easier and safer for wildland firefighters to control,” said John Ruhs, State Director for BLM Idaho, which is hosting the Great Basin Fuel Breaks EIS Team. “We believe that creating a system of fuel breaks will help us enhance and improve our working landscapes.”
Public meetings have been set from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in each of the states affected by the proposal. In Idaho, they are scheduled as follows:
July 9: Red Lion Boise Hotel, 1800 W Fairview Ave., Boise, ID 83702
July 16: BLM Twin Falls District Office, 2878 Addison Ave., Twin Falls, ID 83301
July 17: Pinecrest Event Center, 560 E Anderson St, Idaho Falls, ID 83401
Additional information about the plan is available here.