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NEWS RELEASE

USDA Forest Service
Superior National Forest
8901 Grand Avenue Place
Duluth, MN  55808

May 16, 2001 Contact: Kris Reichenbach 218/626-4393

Superior National Forest Issues Decision on Prescribed Burning in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

The Superior National Forest Supervisor, Jim Sanders, has decided to
prescribe burn approximately 75,000 acres in the blowdown area of the
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). Implementation is expected
to begin this fall and continue for five to seven years.


The purpose of the prescribed burning is to reduce the risk of a wildland fire exiting the wilderness and threatening public safety and property outside the wilderness boundaries. This decision is based on the analysis
in the BWCAW Fuel Treatment Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which provided a comparison of alternatives to address this risk in a manner that is sensitive to ecological and wilderness values, while protecting fire
personnel and BWCAW visitors. Another consideration is the fact that, under current conditions, our ability to allow fire to play a more natural role is not possible in blowdown areas because of the threat to values outside
the Wilderness.


The Final EIS incorporates a number of changes relative to the Draft EIS.
Many of these changes were made in response to input by the public including concerns regarding impacts to old growth trees, control line construction, and use of fire retardant. As a result, we will include additional measures during prescribed burning to reduce tree mortality,
maximize the use of existing fuel breaks, and use only water and foam to assist with holding control lines during prescribed burning.


Additional information on the alternatives that were considered can be found in the Final EIS and the Record of Decision for the BWCAW Fuel Treatment project. Copies are available at the Superior Forest Headquarters, 8901 Grand Avenue Place, Duluth, MN, 218/626-4300. These
documents will also be posted by the end of the week on the Forest web site
at www.fs.fed.us/r9/superior .


Inquiries may be directed to Mark VanEvery at 218/626-4304 or Barbara
Soderberg at 218/626-4326.

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