ePlanning DOI-BLM-NV-B000-2015-0002-EA ( Roadside Fuel Breaks Project)  
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10/31/2016 17:00:22 MDT

The BLM Battle Mountain District is undertaking an Environmental Assessment to analyze the effects of a District-wide programmatic plan to reduce the severity of wildland fires by establishing and maintaining fuel breaks on approximately 30,000 acres of public lands within the Shoshone-Eureka and Tonopah Planning Areas in Lander, Eureka, Nye, and Esmeralda Counties, Nevada. Various fuels treatment methods would be implemented in a phased manner over multiple years with approximately 500 to 3,000 acres implemented annually.
Historically, the approach to fire management has been one of full or modified suppression of all wildland fires on public lands administered by the BLM resulting in limited use of prescribed fire and an increase in hazardous fuels. As a result, there have been numerous and extensive wildfires in the past ten years. Greater emphasis is now being placed on wildland fire rehabilitation and hazardous fuels reduction. New national direction is outlined in the Review and Update of the 1995 Federal Wildland Fire Management Update . In addition, the National Fire Plan  (NFP) provides for implementation of hazardous fuels reduction activities such as those outlined in the Healthy Forests Initiative (HFI) and Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA). Congress has provided funds to address hazardous fuels management issues and to re-introduce fire into fire-dependent ecosystems.

What is a Fuel Break?
A fuel break is a strip or block of land of varying width (depending on fuel and terrain), where the vegetation, debris and detritus have been reduced and/or modified to control or reduce the risk of the spread of fire crossing it. Fuel breaks are planned and located at strategic locations on the landscape as part of a fire defense system for a land unit where there is a need to control the risk of the spread of fire. Fuel breaks improve fire control opportunities and aid firefighters by slowing fire spread under normal burning conditions.

Programmatic Approach
The BMD proposes to conduct a phased approach to implementing the proposed action based on Loading Criteria (Chapter 2) to reduce hazardous fuel loadings within the District. The feasibility, surveying, design, and mapping of proposed projects will be ongoing. The analysis presented in this programmatic environmental assessment is addressed from a programmatic level, and evaluates the affected environment and potential consequences from a broad perspective.  

Decision to be Made
The decision to be made is whether or not the BLM should approve the proposed programmatic roadside fuel break hazardous fuels reduction project, and if so, under what conditions.