The transfer supports Interior's commitment to being a good neighbor and increases local fire resources
Date: August 22, 2019
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – Today, Kate MacGregor, Deputy Chief of Staff for the Department of the Interior who is exercising the authority of the Deputy Secretary, joined the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Upper Colorado River Interagency Fire and Aviation Management Unit (UCR) to transfer a wildland fire engine to the De Beque Fire Protection District DFPD at the De Beque Fire Station in Mesa County. The engine was transferred under BLM’s Rural Fire Readiness (RFR) program, which is designed to provide equipment to local wildland firefighting partners at no cost.
“Fire knows no bounds. When it comes to fighting wildfires in rural communities, everyone fights it together. It’s an honor to be here and transfer this fire engine to the community of De Beque. We sincerely hope this assistance increases the safety and effectiveness of collaborative wildland fire response in the community and Mesa County,” said Kate MacGregor, DOI Deputy Chief of Staff exercising the authority of Deputy Secretary.
“We are pleased to provide this engine to our valuable partners at the De Beque Fire Protection District,” said BLM Colorado State Director Jamie Connell. “Through this transfer, we are enhancing the ability to suppress wildland fires that threaten communities, property and natural resources in Mesa County.”
“This engine will be an asset to our wildfire fleet,” said DFPD District Fire Chief Mike Harvey. “We all work together as one team on wildfires here and this demonstrates that teamwork.”
“We continue to work closely with our local BLM office to better serve our community,” said Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese. "This is a perfect example of how we collaborate locally.”
Community partnerships between the BLM and local fire departments are crucial to wildfire response on private, state and federal lands affecting grazing, recreational, wildlife and other values important to local economies.
The RFR program serves as a mechanism to transfer BLM firefighting equipment and provide funding to partners to increase safety and reduce suppression response time.
Just last year, this program was reinstated to transfer used equipment to volunteer fire departments, rural fire departments, rangeland fire protection associations, and other similar organizations. In that time, BLM has transferred approximately 11 engines in six western states, including Idaho, Oregon, Utah, Wyoming, Nevada, and Montana. In 2019 and early in 2020, the BLM expects to transfer approximately 24 more wildland fire engines and one command vehicle to volunteer fire departments, rural fire departments, and rangeland fire protection associations in several western states.
For the past decade, the BLM stationed the engine at its fire station in Rifle. The BLM recently replaced the engine, which made it available through the RFR program.
With peak wildfire activity predicted in the coming months, DOI has been working tirelessly to implement preventative measures to limit the size and scope of wildfires, treat current wildfires already underway, and protect wildfire-prone areas to best safeguard people and their communities.
The Trump Administration has prioritized active management of the nation’s public lands as provided in the President’s
This year, the BLM began analyzing a significant, 11,000-mile stretch of strategic fuel breaks to combat wildfires in the Great Basin, which includes portions of Idaho, Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada, and Utah. This large-scale, collaborative project could serve as a means to better control wildfires within a 223 million acre area. The environmental impact of the proposal is still being evaluated.
As DOI continues to evaluate innovative ways to best limit the destruction of wildfires in the future, it is nearing completion of more than 2,500 wildfire risk-reduction projects on more than 1.2 million acres of DOI and tribally administered lands in some of the most fire-prone areas of the country.
The UCR includes BLM and U.S. Forest Service firefighting resources that cover 5.8 million acres along Interstate 70 and the Colorado River and Roaring Fork River corridors, from the Continental Divide to the Utah state line. The UCR includes the White River National Forest and the BLM’s Colorado River Valley and Grand Junction field offices. The UCR cooperates with other federal and state agencies, local communities, and fire departments on a wide range of activities including fuels treatments, fire prevention and suppression.
For more information on the RFR program, please visit the BLM Rural Fire Readiness webpage at https://www.blm.gov/programs/public-safety-and-fire/rural-fire-readiness-program.