The Bureau of Land Management has proposed a network of up to 11,000 miles of fuel breaks along interstates, highways and roads in six states that make up the Great Basin, including parts of southern Idaho. While well-maintained fuel breaks can help control the spread of wildfires, they can threaten what they intend to protect. 

BLM’s draft proposal raises a number of concerns for the Idaho Conservation League:

  • Fragmentation of wildlife habitat, especially for sensitive species like the Greater Sage Grouse.
  • Spread of invasive. noxious and highly-flammable weeds.
  • Increased fire risk as failure to maintain fuel breaks could create highly-flammable conditions.
  • Widespread use of herbicides, which can pollute streams and rivers, impacting fish, amphibians and other species.

ICL is also concerned that a lack of dedicated funding for the BLM will make it difficult to monitor and maintain fuel breaks.

According to the BLM proposal, each fuel break would extend 500 feet from the edge of the roadway. Construction would include tilled rocks, mowed vegetation, vegetation treated with herbicide, a live “greenbelt,” or a combination of these methods.

ICL is encouraging concerned Idahoans to learn more about the proposal, attend the upcoming public meetings, and submit comments on the plan. 

The BLM has scheduled public meetings throughout southern Idaho to provide information and answer questions on the following dates and locations from 5 to 7 pm:

  • 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

If you care about how our public lands are managed, we encourage you to attend these important meetings. You can also view the BLM’s Environmental Impact Statement and provide comments here. Comments are accepted until August 5, 2019.