Fuelbreak in California

This fuel break in the Los Padres Forest in California runs along the Santa Ynez Mountains crest.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is seeking public comments on a proposal to build fuel breaks across Idaho and five other nearby states, to make it tougher for range fires to spread.

The BLM has scheduled three public hearings in Idaho on the plan, which calls for creating a system of 11,000 miles of strategically placed fuel breaks to control wildfires within a 223 million-acre area that includes parts of Idaho, Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada and Utah.

The region, known as the Great Basin, includes large, unbroken swaths of grasses and other vegetation that have allowed catastrophic rangeland wildfires to spread in recent years. The fuel breaks can be up to 300 feet wide and involve the removal of all vegetation and/or replanting with fire-resistant plantings.

When a wildfire burns into a fuel break, the BLM said in a news release, the flame lengths decrease, and the fire’s progress slows, making it safer and easier for firefighters to control the fire. The proposed fuel breaks would go along roads and rights-of-way on BLM-administered land.

Here’s the public hearing schedule in Idaho, all from 5-7 p.m.:

— July 9, Red Lion Boise Hotel, 1800 W. Fairview Ave., Boise

— July 16, BLM Twin Falls District Office, 2878 Addison Ave., Twin Falls

— July 17, Pinecrest Event Center, 560 E. Anderson St., Idaho Falls

In addition to the hearings, the BLM is accepting comments through midnight Aug. 5; there’s more information online at www.blm.gov. Public hearings also are being scheduled in the five other states.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.