BLM taking proactive approach to reduce wildfire risks in California

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The Hazard Removal and Vegetation Management Project Programmatic Environmental Assessment streamlines vegetation management and removal of hazardous trees.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – In advancing the Department of the Interior’s commitment to reduce wildfire risk, the Bureau of Land Management on Friday released its Hazard Removal and Vegetation Management Project Programmatic Environmental Assessment (EA). This assessment covers approximately 551,000 acres of BLM-managed public land in central and northern California and streamlines the process for right-of-way holders, utility companies, and counties to treat vegetation and remove hazardous trees within 200 feet of critical infrastructure to reduce wildfire risk.

Significant increases in dead and dying trees are threatening public safety in high-use areas near roads, private property, utility lines, recreation areas and trails.  The BLM is taking action consistent with the direction of Executive Order 13855 to facilitate the removal of hazardous trees near critical infrastructure in California, as the effects of drought, bark beetle infestation and high tree densities continue to impact communities.

“When it comes to wildfires, we have to get out ahead of the problem,” said Acting Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt. “In recent years, we have seen the sheer devastation that some fires can cause.  Active forest management is the best way to address this pressing issue, and I am pleased with this latest step that the Bureau of Land Management is taking.”

“This plan helps reduce wildfire risk by actively managing forests and woodland areas,” said BLM California Acting State Director Joe Stout. “It streamlines environmental review for vegetation treatments to create defensible space near roads, utility lines, private property, recreation areas, and other critical infrastructure to reduce wildfire risk.”

The BLM estimates that between 2,500 and 20,000 acres of treatment will occur on an annual basis under this programmatic EA.  Treatment strategies include removing dead and dying trees, clearing understory vegetation, and conducting prescribed pile and understory burns.

The EA covers eight BLM resource management plans spanning 35 northern and central California counties: Alpine; Amador; Butte; Calaveras; Colusa; El Dorado; Fresno; Glenn; Humboldt; Kern; Lake; Lassen; Madera; Mariposa; Mendocino; Modoc; Napa; Nevada; Placer; Plumas; Sacramento; San Benito; Santa Barbara; Shasta; Sierra; Siskiyou; Solano; Sonoma; Tehama; Trinity; Tulare; Tuolumne; Ventura; Yolo and Yuba.

The Hazard Removal and Vegetation Management Project Programmatic Environmental Assessment decision is subject to a 30-day appeal period.  To review a copy of the EA and for more information visit: https://goo.gl/v3WCAe.

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