Forest Service resumes prescribed fire program, but some fear new rules will delay projects
The Bureau of Land Management is launching a new prescribed fire program for the West in a bid to increase fuel and fire regime diversity on public lands. (Photo courtesy of BLM)
Updated: Nov. 18, 2017 12:13 p.m.
The Bureau of Land Management is launching a new prescribed fire program for the West in a bid to increase fuel and fire regime diversity on public lands.
The agency will begin on public lands next week, with a first round of prescribed burning operations to be conducted on public lands in California and Nevada by Dec. 1. The program is expected to be expanded nationwide and will allow the use of more types of fires to maintain fuel diversity.
The decision to halt or postpone certain resource protection activities could cost Nevada approximately $2.5 million, the most of any state, according to the Nevada Department of Wildlife’s Division of State Lands.
“We don’t know yet exactly what that will mean for Nevada’s wildlife resources. We do know, however, that Nevada will have the opportunity to participate in a program designed to increase landscape fuel diversity, which is critical for wildland fire management,” says Dave Bies, a Nevada Department of Wildlife wildlife biologist.
During the proposed rule-making process, BLM decided to create a new program that will allow for a wide range of prescribed burns from three different categories: natural, prescribed and wildland.
The goal of the new program, according to the BLM, is to increase the diversity of fuel types burned and improve fire regime management.
“Prescribed burns have already proven to be effective in managing fire risk and improving wildlife habitat, but BLM has historically used prescribed burns primarily on public lands managed for energy production,” says Kevin Morgan, executive director of the Western Wildlands Coalition. “Since the early 1990s, BLM has had a policy of not maintaining natural fire regimes on federal lands with the intent of providing opportunities for ‘unscheduled’ and ‘