BLM moves forward with controlled burn plans in Douglas County
MINDEN, Nev. (AP) – The Bureau of Land Management is moving forward with plans for a controlled burn in the Pine Nut Mountains in Douglas County despite strong public opposition.
The decision drew swift criticism from Douglas County Commission Chairman Bernie Curtis and residents in the Jack Wright Summit area.
”This isn’t fair to those who live in the area,” Curtis said. ”I’m distressed by this decision.”
Opponents have 30 days to appeal the BLM’s determination that the burn will have no significant environmental impact.
”The BLM doesn’t have a good track record when it comes to controlled burns. I’m disappointed they didn’t take this into consideration in their decision,” Curtis said.
The agency wants to remove downed tree limbs and pine needles in a former wood-cutting area north of State Route 208 and east of Topaz Ranch Estates.
Tim Roide, fuels specialist in the BLM’s Carson City office, said the burn wouldn’t occur until late winter at the earliest. As part of the plan, he said the agency intends to install a remote weather station, linked by satellite, to monitor wind conditions.
By carefully planning a burn in the winter or spring, agency representatives said excess fuels in the area can be eliminated safely and substantially reduce the risk of a major wildland fire.
But opponents point to a controlled burn that went awry last year in the Mount Como area of the Pine Nuts. No homes were threatened but the fire burned three times as much ground as intended when winds kicked up.
As a result, county commissioners last March called on the BLM to avoid using fire in removing fuels from the Jack Wright Summit area. The board unanimously urged the agency to reverse its position, saying risks associated with lighting a fire near residential areas is unacceptable.
County officials suggested removing slash by hand and using inmate crews for the task.
”The BLM doesn’t listen to the people. They think this is their land and they can do whatever they want,” said Vic Buron, who lives near the planned burn site.
”They held meetings on this to pacify the residents. This is going to be shoved down our throats whether we like it or not.”
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