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Environmental Assessment for Wildland Fire Prevention Activities at Joint-Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER), Alaska

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The United States Air Force Air Force proposes to implement wildland fire prevention activities within the RTA to reduce the amount of grassy and downed woody vegetation that may contribute to an uncontrollable wildfire. Prevention activities will take place in May and June of 2015 within the RTA, to include training facilities such as the Small Arms Complex, Infantry Platoon Battle Course, Infantry Squad Battle Course, Digital Multi-Purpose Training Range, Malemute Drop Zone, Geronimo Drop Zone, along with small landing zones and other small training facilities. Three alternatives have been analyzed for their potential environmental impacts to reduce hazardous fuels. Alternative 1 implements the use of prescribed burns of up to approximately 2,000 acres within the RTA. Prescribed burns will include broadcast burning in the open grassy areas as well as debris pile burning. Debris piles will be formed by collecting and centralizing fallen woody vegetation. Burn piles will be in areas that have historically been used to burn fallen and downed vegetation. Additionally, existing fire breaks and fire access roads will be maintained to ensure firefighters have the ability to control both prescribed burns and wildfires. Two new fire access trails are also proposed under Alternative 1 to improve the response time to areas should a fire erupt. Wetland areas would be avoided during construction of firebreaks. Alternative 2 considers the use of mechanical methods to remove vegetation. Mowing would be employed to reduce grassesshrubs in open areas, such as in drop zones, landing zones, and ranges. Mowing is a far less effective way to reduce the presence of fuels due to the amount of time involved and because mowing does not remove all the vegetation and can result in a buildup of dried biomass. The acreage to be mowed would be the same as what would be burned under Alternative 1.

Subject Categories:

  • Forestry
  • Safety Engineering
  • Environmental Health and Safety

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