This corridor is one of the busiest areas for wildfires in the state of Idaho. Almost 60% of this corridor has been burned since 1980. What’s worse, 80% of the wildfires striking this corridor are human-caused. Wildfires burn exceptionally fast in this corridor, and threaten both rural homes and freeway traffic, due to the prevalence of invasive annual grasses, weeds and brush.
Fuel breaks are swaths of ground prepared and managed to deny a wildfire a continuous source of fuel. Several different styles of fuel breaks will be created during the Paradigm project.
Greenstrips comprising a hardy rangeland plant called kochia will cover about 274 miles (9,854 acres). Kochia out-competes cheatgrass and remains green further into the summer than most other rangeland vegetation species, making it ideal for greenstripping.
Fuel breaks covering an additional 82 miles (3,024 acres) will be developed using short-statured perennial plants, mowing, disc lining, chemical treatments and targeted grazing. These alternative methods will be preferred within designated slickspot peppergrass habitat or other buffer or avoidance zones, such as the Oregon National Historic Trail.
The Paradigm Fuel Break Project has taken on an added sense of urgency as the BLM moves forward with implementing an order issued by the Department of the Interior in January. That order calls for Interior agencies to use a comprehensive, science-based strategy to address the more frequent and intense wildfires that are damaging vital sagebrush landscapes and productive rangelands, particularly in the Great Basin region of Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Oregon and California. Goals of the strategy include reducing the size, severity and cost of rangeland fires; addressing the spread of cheatgrass and other invasive species; and positioning wildland fire management resources for more effective rangeland fire response. The Paradigm Fuel Break project directly supports these goals.
A map of the Paradigm Fuel Break project area and the project’s environmental analysis and decision documents are available on request at the Boise District Office at 3948 Development Avenue, Boise, ID 83705 and on the BLM National Environmental Policy Act Register at on.doi.gov/1zRr0a8.
Any person adversely affected by this decision may appeal to the Interior Board of Land Appeals, Office of the Secretary, in accordance with the regulations contained in 43 CFR Part 4. A notice of appeal and/or a petition for stay must be filed by May 29, 2015.
For more information, contact Kevin Moriarty at (208) 384-3221.