Photo Erik Molvar

In June, the Bureau of Land Management announced its draft plan to carve 11,000 miles of fuel breaks into the fragile Great Basin landscape. The agency is forging ahead with this plan despite recent scientific paper concluding that there is a lack of empirical evidence validating the effectiveness of fuel breaks in reducing fire spread but plenty of evidence of the disturbance they create on wildlife habitat. See Shinneman et al 2018. Predictably, the plan overlooked a major cause of the increasing flammability of the Great Basin – livestock facilitated spread of invasive annual grasses – and didn’t adequately consider how climate change is contributing to this growing problem. It’s almost as if BLM didn’t read the USGS study, or listen to Western Watersheds Project when the organization responded to the new research last year.

Western Watersheds Project, Center for Biological Diversity, Oregon Natural Desert Association, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Basin and Range Watch, Grand Canyon Trust, and Defenders of Wildlife sent in comments opposing this plan. The comments are chock full of the best science and well worth a read for anyone who cares about these huge swaths of desert lands.



About The Author

Greta Anderson

Greta Anderson is a plant nerd, a desert rat, and a fan of wildness. She is the Deputy Director of Western Watersheds Project and lives on the land of the Tohono O'Odham and Yaqui people in what is now called Arizona. Greta's opinions and world views are not necessarily reflected in the posts of other authors on this blog.

3 Responses to 11,000 Miles of New Damage in the Great Basin

  1. Chris Zinda says:

    Gotta feed DoD’s Red Rock Biofuels somehow, to keep the ruse until they switch to Ruby NG exclusively.

  2. Bruce Bowen says:

    Since the executive branch has gone completely “anti science” , attempting to convince Dept of Interior employees to respond to scientific data will probably not work. Environmental organizations need to come up with some counter propaganda. Such as-show a picture of a wilderness area-and then what a wilderness area looks like in Trump’s world- a golf course. Or maybe Trump’s legacy on public land–oil spills, open pit mines , cow pies and deer dying of wasting disease. We need some visually shocking stuff.


August 2019


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

%d bloggers like this: