ELKO, Nev. (AP) — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management presented plans in northeast Nevada for a 10-year program that would install fire breaks and restore rangeland in the Great Basin.
The environmental impact process is expected to lead to on-the-ground projects that will be site-specific but not require individual assessments prior to action, the Elko Daily Free Press reported Monday.
The plan was revealed last week. Wildlife biologist Kelly Michelsen played a video at the presentation that showed how the installation of fuel breaks in Idaho have helped reduce the size of fires once they break out.
“It will protect working landscapes for people that depend on them for their livelihood, and they should protect and enhance the habitat for over 350 wildlife species,” Michelsen said.
Michelsen said, however, that fire protection needs to be balanced with factors such as wildlife habitat fragmentation.
“When you put in a fuel break there’s a potential for habitat fragmentation, so you have to be very clear where we’re going to put these, and we need to be very, very specific in these documents that we’re taking those concerns into account, addressing them and mitigating them so we can continue to keep that wildfire growth down,” she said.
The assessments should take about a year to complete.
“I think that people are going to notice it,” said Michelsen, who once worked as a firefighter. “It’s going to have an effect on everybody, because it already does. Look at the wildland fires, look at the burn starts . everybody is seeing it.”