Plan looks at projects to reduce vegetation in fire-prone areas
FAIRBANKS, Alaska – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is seeking public comments through May 15 on its programmatic environmental assessment (PEA) for reducing the risk of wildfires on public lands it manages in east-central Alaska.
“The plan intends to establish a suite of tools that we can utilize to reduce the wildfire risk in different areas,” said Acting Eastern Interior Field Manager John Haddix. “The objective is to remove enough vegetation, or ‘fuel,’ so that when a wildfire burns, it is less severe and can be more easily and safely managed.”
Fuel reduction programs are proven means of preventing catastrophic fires while reducing the wildfire risk to property, the public and firefighters. They also help forested lands naturally recover by reducing the need for more aggressive fire suppression techniques if there is a wildfire.
The PEA is designed to help the BLM streamline how it handles specific fuels reduction projects in the future, allowing it to be more efficient and effective in protecting communities and resources at risk from wildfires. It considers the many factors common to all area fuels reduction projects in advance, so environmental reviews and outreach for specific projects will be quicker and more efficient.
The BLM will collect public input on this preliminary stage of the Eastern Interior Hazardous Fuels Management PEA through May 15, 2020, by telephone, postal mail, email or on the agency’s ePlanning website. Mailed comments should be sent to BLM Eastern Interior Field Office, 222 University Avenue, Fairbanks, AK 99709, Attn: Tom St. Clair.
The BLM will provide additional opportunities for public input as the plan is finalized and specific hazardous fuels projects are developed.
In compliance with guidance from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, White House, and state and local authorities to implement social distancing and virtual meeting tools, the BLM is not currently hosting in-person public meetings. However, communities and organizations interested in virtual meetings or obtaining additional information about the project may contact fire management specialist Tom St. Clair at (907) 474-2226 or visit the BLM ePlanning website.
“We hope this process will also help us identify opportunities to collaborate with communities, other agencies and landowners,” said Haddix.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land located primarily in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. In fiscal year 2018, the diverse activities authorized on BLM-managed lands generated $105 billion in economic output across the country. This economic activity supported 471,000 jobs and contributed substantial revenue to the U.S. Treasury and state governments, mostly through royalties on minerals.