Minimum Impact Suppression Tactics by lonyoo


									This document is contained within the Fire
Management Toolbox on Since
other related resources found in this toolbox may
be of interest, you can visit this toolbox by visiting
the following URL:
xes&sec=fire. All toolboxes are products of the
Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training

      Minimum Impact
     Management Tactics
          Superior National Forest
                      Region 9
                  USDA Forest Service

  STANDARD                      FIRE ORDERS

            Fight fire aggressively but
             provide for safety first.
            Initiate all action based on
             current and expected fire
            Recognize current weather
             conditions and obtain forecasts.
            Ensure instructions are given and
            Obtain current information on fire
            Remain in communication with
             crew members, your supervisor
             and adjoining forces.

Superior National Forest    2           MIMT Handbook
            Determine safety zones and
             escape routes.
            Establish lookouts in potentially
             hazardous situations.
            Retain control at all times.
            Stay alert, keep calm, think
             clearly, and act decisively.

  (Note: above Standard Fire Orders printed
             inside front cover)

Superior National Forest    3         MIMT Handbook
                   Minimum Impact
                  Management Tactics
Introduction ............................................................... 1
Command and General Staff .................................... 4
   Incident Commander .............................................. 4
   Public Information Officer ....................................... 4
   Liaison Officer ........................................................ 5
   Safety ..................................................................... 5
Planning ..................................................................... 6
Operations ................................................................. 6
   Ground Operations ................................................. 7
   Air Operations ........................................................ 9
   Suppression ......................................................... 11
   Mop-up ................................................................. 11
   Rehab .................................................................. 12
Logistics .................................................................. 13
   Inside the BWCA Wilderness ................................ 15
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness ............ 18
   Description ........................................................... 18
   July 4th 1999 Blowdown ........................................ 20
   Management Direction ......................................... 20
   BWCAW Rules and Regulations ........................... 21
   Safety/Hazards ..................................................... 22
Sensitive Areas ....................................................... 16
   TES Plants, Animals, and Old-growth Forests ...... 17
   Non-native Invasive Species................................. 17
   Sensitive Soil Types ............................................. 18
   Sensitive Habitat Types ........................................ 18

Superior National Forest                   4                  MIMT Handbook
This document is contained within the Fire
Management Toolbox on Since
other related resources found in this toolbox may
be of interest, you can visit this toolbox by visiting
the following URL:
xes&sec=fire. All toolboxes are products of the
Arthur Carhart National Wilderness Training

Fire management has evolved, as concern of its effect on the
environment has increased. Preserving wilderness values has
been the impetus for Minimum Impact Management Tactics
(MIMT) in fire management. The Superior National Forest
recognizes that these tactics are applicable and appropriate
both outside and inside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area
Wilderness (BWCAW). These tactics can also be used to
meet resource management objectives in an ecologically
acceptable manner while ensuring fire fighter safety. The
„minimum tool‟ concept is the guiding philosophy of the
Superior Fire Program so the end result will appear to be
more of a pattern created by nature than a scar caused by
humans. Our approach is to manage fire rather than control

The Superior National Forest finds
itself in a unique situation due to its    Our approach
large wilderness component and              is to manage
Superior National Forest         1                MIMT than
                                          fire rather Handbook
                                              control it.
extreme fuel build up. There is potential for fires to start
easier, burn with greater intensity, and spread faster, resulting
in an increased risk to life and property outside the BWCAW
(including Canada). The Forest's heightened wildfire risk and
accelerated prescribed burning program have magnified the
potential for resource impacts from fire management.

MIMT is generally thought of as just for operations and
logistics, however it also affects incident command and
planning. The purpose of this handbook is to assist both fire
managers and ground crews in planning tactics and selecting
techniques that will safely accomplish management
objectives while minimizing impacts to ecosystems and
wilderness values. This handbook also highlights sensitive
resources on the Forest, such as shallow soils, heritage
resources, habitats, threatened and endangered species, air,
water, and wilderness.

Our actions are an opportunity to display responsible,
professional land stewardship.

                               -Superior National Forest Fire
                                   and Wilderness Managers

Superior National Forest           2              MIMT Handbook
                     Ask yourself this:

 Ten years from now, which will be most

             The effects of the fire or
           The effects of the firefighter?

Superior National Forest       3          MIMT Handbook
           Command and General Staff
Incident Commander
  Ensure the burn plan and associated logistics plan (which
  addresses the minimum tool) are the guiding documents
  for all prescribed fires within the BWCAW.
  Ensure a positive team
  environment for the Resource               MIMT is
  Advisor(s) to work in.               generally thought
  Ensure the Resource Advisor(s)         of as just for
  recommendations are evaluated
  and when achievable are
                                        operations and
  incorporated into IAP.                    logistics,
 Resource Advisor(s) will              however it also
  evaluate and ensure suppression       affects incident
  tactics are commensurate with         command and
  land and resource objectives as          planning.
  well as incident objectives.

Public Information Officer

 Educate the public on fire having an ecological purpose
  when reasonable.
 Emphasize “fire pattern” terminology rather than “fire
  scar” statements.
 Communicate why natural barriers (indirect attack) may
  be utilized rather than fireline construction (direct attack)
  from a resource protection standpoint.
 Use the message that fire suppression may have more
  severe, long-lasting effects than the fire itself.

Superior National Forest          4               MIMT Handbook
Liaison Officer

Communicate MIMT to assisting agency representatives.
Examples include:
 Ensuring spill kits are present during pump operation
 Mop-up standards are not exceeded.
 Aircraft use and other forms of motorized/mechanical
  transport are limited to what is essential and approved for
  the mission.

Safety Officer

 Ensure firefighter safety is not compromised to meet
 Communicate the message that MIMT can be
  accomplished without compromising safety.
 Evaluate MIMT to ensure LCES is met.
 The BWCAW is a fire dependent ecosystem. On many
  fires in the BWCAW, the only resources at risk will be fire
  fighters and other suppression resources.

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 Ensure information from district personnel, Resource
  Advisors, district fire plans, environmental analysis, burn
  plans are incorporated into planning.
  o Heritage Resources
  o Aerial Photos
  o GIS Maps (fuels, fire history, T&E, Roads, old growth,
  o Wilderness Resources
  o Wildlife habitats
  o Threatened and Endangered species
 Make certain special features and sensitive areas are
  identified on shift maps.
 Ensure instructions for MIMT are communicated to fire
  personnel through shift plan.
 Monitor implementation of MIMT – further explain or
  clarify if necessary.
 Pass information concerning fire operations to district
  personnel at the end of the incident.

Crews and equipment will be transported by canoes into and
out of the BWCAW, unless aircraft use is pre-approved in the
burn plan.

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Ground Operations

Line Layout
 Evaluate the need for control lines. Do you even need to
   construct line?
 Use natural breaks and openings as much as possible.
 Use portages, trails, and roads when reasonable.
 Will you need an access path?
 Define the control line‟s purpose. For instance, are you
   going to use it for hose lays, burning off, or access.

Water Use
Due to the abundance of water on the Superior National
Forest, a majority of operations will involve water-handling
 Water will be used as a tool when reasonable to reduce the
   width of control line construction.
 All pumps will be used with containment barriers in place
   for fuel and foam concentrate spills.
 Avoid placing pumps near eagle nesting sites or other
   sensitive areas.
 The use of foam will be restricted to:
   o >10 feet from water when using backpack pumps
   o 25 when using small pumps (smaller than MKIII)
   o 50 feet when using large
      pumps (MKIII or larger)
 Make sure pumps are secure              The Resource
   and will not fall into water.       Advisor is there to
                                       help you make

Superior National Forest        7             MIMT Handbook
 Avoid the use of straight-streaming to minimize the
  impacts on soils.
 Pre-treating with sprinklers or nozzles prior to prescribed
  burning is advisable.
 Consider using low-decibel propane pumps, if available.

Line Construction

 Efforts should be made to reduce the visual impact of
  firelines along waterways and travel corridors by placing
  turns in line or leaving uncut buffer.
 Use natural breaks and openings as much as possible.
 Use portages, trails, and roads when reasonable.
 Consider the use of wet line, foam, cold trail, and less
  flammable fuels as an alternative to line construction.
 Use burn out and low impact tools where possible.
 Consider using fireline explosives to construct line in
  appropriate areas.
 Construct control lines only to the minimum width and
  depth necessary to control fire spread.
 In some areas, a fuel break may be all that is required and
  you may not have to cut fire line to mineral soil.
 The use of rubber-tired skidders may be preferred over the
  use of dozers, where this equipment is approved for use.
 Keep heavy equipment, when approved for use, away
  from riparian and sensitive areas.
 Scrape around tree bases near fireline if ignition is likely
  to create a safety hazard.
 Minimize bucking and cutting trees to establish fuel break.

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 Move or roll down material out of the fireline area. If
  moving or rolling is not possible, or the log is already on
  fire, isolate it and let it burn out.
 Limb vegetation adjacent to fireline only as needed to
  prevent additional fire spread.
 When limbing, minimize damage to tree trunks.
 During fireline construction, cut shrubs and small trees
  only when necessary. Make cuts flush with ground.
 Live trees will not be cut unless it is determined that they
  would cause spotting across the fire line or seriously
  endanger workers.
 If tree falling occurs, cut the stumps flush with the ground.
 Consider using fireline explosives to fell trees that are too
  hazardous for saw use.
 Fuel breaks should be the minimum needed to manage
  fire. If lines wider than 30 feet are required and approved,
  consult your Resource Advisor for ways to mitigate

NOTE: If there are any questions about impact of these
tactics, contact your Resource Advisor.

Air Operations

One of the goals of wilderness and fire managers is to
minimize the disturbance caused by air operations during an
 While U.S.F.S. beaver floatplanes will be used on the
   majority of suppression and prescribed burn operations for
   crew shuttles, water drops, cargo loads, and aerial
   observations outside the BWCAW, they will only be used

Superior National Forest          9              MIMT Handbook
    if it is the minimum tool within the BWCAW and, in the
    case of prescribed fire, only if it is pre-approved in the
    burn plan. Prefer floatplanes for logistical use over
    helicopters to reduce the need for helispots.
   Minimize the number of back haul flights by transporting
    as much equipment per flight as is safe and practical.
   Instead of cutting helispots, use long line as much as you
    can for delivery and retrieval of gear.
   Take precautions to ensure that non-native invasive plant
    species are not inadvertently spread by sling loads, bucket
    drops, and other helicopter use.
   Use natural openings for helispots where reasonable. If
    construction is necessary, use durable site to avoid long-
    term impacts.
   Use existing and identified helispots when they are in your
   Consider using previously burned areas for helispots
    where reasonable.
   No helispots will be constructed within the BWCAW
    without Line Officer approval.
   Consider directional falling of trees and snags so they will
    be in a natural appearing arrangement.
   In and around landing zones, buck, and limb only what is
    necessary to achieve safe and practical operating space.
   Avoid foam use within 300 ft. of open water when using
    Beaver aircraft, and T2 and T3 helicopters and 400 ft.
    when using heavy aircraft.
   For prescribed fire in the BWCAW, retardant will only be
    used if fire threatens to escape. Avoid use within 400 ft. of
    a water body or stream. Retardant will not be used for pre-
    treatment in prescribed burns in the Wilderness.

Superior National Forest           10             MIMT Handbook
 High capacity, low-speed bucket drops should be avoided
  to minimize impacts on the ground.
 Consider impacts of water drops versus the use of foam or
  retardant. If foam or retardant is necessary, consider the
  use of foam before retardant.


 The BWCAW Fire Response Matrix or Prescribed Fire
  Burn Plan will guide suppression activities and equipment
  within the Wilderness.
 MIMT will be used on all suppression activities.
 Water safety and aircraft training will be mandatory.


 Use palm infrared detector to identify hot areas.
 Do minimal scraping and digging; restrict digging to hot
  areas near fireline.
 Cold-trail charred logs near firelines. Do minimal tool
 Let logs and snags burn out if possible. If this option is
  chosen, Ensure adequate safety measures are taken.
 Identify hazard trees with a lookout or flagging instead of
  cutting them.
 If burning trees or snags pose a serious threat of spotting,
  try to extinguish with hose or bucket drops. Consider
  using fire line explosives to fell trees that are too
  hazardous for saw use.

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 Align saw cuts to minimize visual impacts from more
  heavily traveled corridors. Slope cut faces away from line
  of sight if possible.
 Return logs to original position if possible after mop-up.
 Refrain from making bone piles (burned logs lined up
  parallel to each other) and consider burning piles later.
 Use alternate routes to and from work areas to minimize


For constructed fireline, helispots and other impacted areas:

 Place waterbars as needed, to prevent erosion in firelines.
 Naturalize and camouflage cut stumps to minimize visual
 Arrange trees and brush that were cut to blend in with
  surrounding landscape. Scatter large accumulations of cut
 Randomly place burned and unburned material over the
  constructed fireline so it blends in with surrounding
 Remove all signs of human activity (flagging, litter, and
  fire gear).

Superior National Forest         12             MIMT Handbook
Lookouts                   Generally will be provided by an aerial
Communications             Relays and portable repeaters may be
                           needed due to “dead areas”
Escape Routes              May need to construct as you go along
                           Look for closer safety zones.
Safety Zones               Consider lakes

Outside the BWCAW

 Layout all campsite components carefully to minimize
  potential impacts. Designate eating, sleeping, latrine,
  washing, etc. areas.
 Sleeping and other camp areas will be selected to avoid
  the need for trenching, excavating, or removing
  vegetation. Good campsites are found, not made.
 Wash Area:
  o Designate one common wash
     area for all personnel.
  o Select site at least 200 ft. from
  o Provide wash water and
     biodegradable soap.
  o Do not wash in lakes or

Superior National Forest             13             MIMT Handbook
    o Do not allow soap, shampoo, other personal grooming
       chemicals, or wastewater to get into lakes or streams.
    o Scatter wastewater on dry areas at least 200 ft. from
       lakes and streams.
   Use commercial portable toilet facilities when and where
   Latrines:
    o Designate one common latrine area for all personnel for
       disposal of human waste in camp.
    o Select a dry, screened site at least 200 ft. from water.
    o Bury used toilet paper in latrine or pack it out.
    o Cover latrine over and naturalize site when camp is
    o Use individual ”cat holes” (6-8 inches deep) for
       disposal of human waste when away from camp. Select
       site using same criteria as for latrine.
   Maintain a clean camp at all times.
    o Police area for litter regularly.
    o Designate a garbage collection point.
    o To avoid wildlife conflicts, garbage and leftover food
       are to be removed from camps daily.
   Separate out appropriate materials (aluminum cans, plastic
    bottles, dead batteries, etc.) for recycling. Designate a
    recycling collection point.
   Naturalize campsite as area is vacated.
   Constantly evaluate and mitigate any impacts that occur –
    both long and short term.

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Inside the BWCA Wilderness

 In wildfire or prescribed fire situations, off-Forest
  personnel will be escorted to work areas and campsites by
  qualified individuals to maximize safety of personnel and
  minimize impacts in wilderness.
 Follow all BWCAW rules and regulations and Leave No
  Trace principals while living and working in the
 While there may be pre-approved exceptions to BWCAW
  regulations during work activities, there are no exceptions
  “after hours”.
 Locate camps at existing campsites or where they would
  have the least impact on wilderness values. Resource
  Advisors will have discretion in determining which option
  is used for resource protection, fire fighter safety, and
  wilderness values.
 Resource Advisors will determine if BWCAW qualified
  individual will remain with crew, or if a crew member can
  take on the role of spike camp manager. If crew size
  exceeds nine, it is advised that a separate camp manager is
 If a BWCAW campsite cannot be used, select resilient
  campsites that will recover quickly. Good campsites are
  found not made.
  o Resource Advisor will determine appropriate methods
      for disposition of human waste.
  o Consider use of portable self-contained toilet units
      when standard BWCAW toilets are not practical.

Superior National Forest        15             MIMT Handbook
 Protection of water
  resource is paramount.          Our actions are an
  All non-biodegradable          opportunity to display
  waste will be packed out.            responsible,
  No soaps/detergents will          professional land
  be used within 150 feet of
  shore. Remember, this is
  the water you drink.
 Fish entrails should be buried 150 feet away from shore
  and well away from the campsite. Note: licenses are
  needed if you chose to fish in off hours.
 Noise can impact other visitors.
  o Be considerate.
  o Sound travels across water.
 Restore campsites to pre-use conditions, or better.
 Trash should be transported out of the Wilderness
  frequently using whatever method available.
 Bear-resistant food storage and handling should be

                      Sensitive Areas
Heritage Resources

Avoid ground disturbing activities, such as control line
construction, on known heritage sites. Avoid causing effects
to known heritage resources such as: sub-surface
archaeological site, above ground historic structures or ruins
of historic buildings. Effects can be direct, indirect and/or

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Direct: Extreme heat-caused disturbance of artifact bearing

Indirect: Increased run-off/erosion of soils/sediments
containing artifacts and features found in the subsurface
archaeological sites.

Operational: Disturbance of artifact bearing soils/sediments
from fire suppression activities such as fireline-building,
application or retardant or high pressure water.

TES Plants, Animals, and Old-growth Forests

Be aware of threatened and endangered species (TES) of
plants and animals as well as old-growth stands that have
been identified in the area you are working and any actions,
if any, necessary to reduce impacts to these resources.

 TES plants and old-growth may have been flagged on or
  near control lines, travel routes, etc.
 Management activities within 1,320 ft of bald eagle nests
  are restricted between February 15 and August 15.
  o To the extent reasonable, maintain this buffer around
     the nests.
  o If management becomes necessary within buffer or fire
     threatens or enters buffer, consult the Resource

Non-native Invasive Species

Be aware of seeds and plants of non-native invasive species.

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 Weeds can be introduced by clothing and equipment,
  including hand tools and aerial equipment. Clean and
  inspect all clothing and gear for possible weed seeds and
  plant material before moving into work area.
 When reasonable, choose sites for spike camps, helispots,
  etc., that are free of non-native invasive species (consult
  with biologist or resource advisor to identify species).

Sensitive Soil Types

Be aware of and avoid disturbance to shallow soils when
reasonable. Minimize travel and management activities on
these soils. Rehabilitation may be needed where shallow
soils have been disturbed.

Sensitive Habitat Types

When reasonable, avoid travel and management, such as
constructing control lines, where disturbance is long lasting.
Examples of sensitive habitat types are lowland bogs and
conifer swamps.

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

The BWCAW is a unique natural area located in the northern
third of the Superior National Forest. Over one million acres

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in size, the Wilderness extends nearly 150 miles along the
international border with Canada and the Quetico Provincial
Park. To the east, Voyageur‟s National Park borders the
The Wilderness contains:
    Over 1,200 miles of canoe routes (12 lakes allow
      motorized watercraft use with horsepower restrictions)
    18 hiking trails
    2,000 designated campsites (fire grates, latrines,
      clearing for tents)

The BWCAW has no roads, no piped water, no picnic tables,
or modern conveniences. It offers freedom to those who
wish to pursue an experience of expansive solitude,
challenge, and personal integration with nature. Because this
area was set aside in 1926 to preserve its primitive character
and made a part of the National Wilderness Preservation
System in 1964, it allows today‟s visitors to canoe, portage,
and camp in the spirit of the French Voyageurs of 200 years

The Wilderness lies in a transition zone between two major
forest types: Great Lakes forest and boreal forest. It contains
patches of each forest type, with a diversity of birch, aspen,
red pine, white pine, jack pine, and white cedar. The
BWCAW has the most extensive tract of forest that has never
been logged in the eastern US, with large area of old-growth
red and white pine forest as well as very old white cedar
trees. It is an important reservoir for biological diversity and
provides undisturbed habitat for many species of plants and

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wildlife including the threatened bald eagle, gray wolf., and
Canada lynx.

The BWCAW is the most heavily used wilderness in the
United States averaging 1,500,000 visitor days each year.
Approximately 200,000 people visit the BWCAW during the
summer month, and on any given day between 2,000 and
12,000 visitors are present.

July 4th 1999 Blowdown

On July 4, 1999, a massive wind and rainstorm hit northern
Minnesota. With winds in excess of 90 miles per hour and
downbursts of heavy rain, the storm snapped off and
uprooted trees. This storm was an extreme weather event and
one of the largest blowdowns ever recorded in North

Approximately 477,000 acres were affected in northern
Minnesota and about 108,000 acres immediately across the
border in Canada. The majority of the area impacted by the
blowdown was in the BWCAW where the storm dramatically
increased the fuel loads in the form of downed tress on
approximately 367,000 acres. As a result, the potential for
wildfire to exit the Wilderness and threaten life and property
outside the BWCAW has also increased.

Management Direction

The BWCAW, as defined by the Wilderness Act of 1964, is
an area:

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 Where humans do not control the earth and its community
  of life
 That generally appears affected by forces of nature, with
  the imprint of our work substantially unnoticeable
 That has outstanding opportunities for solitude or a
  primitive and unconfined type of recreation

The BWCAW Management Plan directs us to manage the
 Protect and perpetuate natural ecosystems
 Provide an enduring resource of wilderness for future
 Provide for unconfined and primitive recreation

BWCAW Rules and Regulations

NOTE: While there may be some pre-approved exceptions
during work activities, there are no exceptions “after hours”.

 Visitors (including FS employees) must enter the
  BWCAW at the entry point and on the entry date shown
  on their permit
 No more than nine people can be together at any place
  (water, portages, or in camp). Four watercraft is the
  maximum allowed with a group.
 Food and beverages must be in plastic reusable containers.
  Cans and bottles are prohibited except for fuel, insect
  repellant, medicine, and personal toilet articles.
 Camping is allowed only at Forest Service designated
  campsites that have a steel fire grate and wilderness

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 Fires must be within the steel fire grate at designated
  campsites. Be aware of fire restrictions.
 Motorized watercraft meeting specific horsepower
  limitations are allowed only on designated routes. No
  other motorized or mechanized equipment (including
  pontoon boats, sailboats, sailboards, mountain bikes) is
  allowed (either used or possessed).
 Only watercraft and equipment used in connection with a
  current visit may be stored and left unattended.


Water - Filter, boil, or treat it. Among other parasites,
Giardia lambia is present.
Weather - Canoe close to shore. This lessens the chance of
being endangered by sudden changes of weather. If a storm
threatens get off the water.
Lightening - Locate yourself properly in a lightening storm.
Get off the water.
Hypothermia - Layer clothing and get adequate food and
Dehydration - Drink plenty of water before you feel thirsty.
Sunburn - Use sunscreen. The temperature may not be
warm, but the rays are intense and can reflect off the water.
Portages - Watch your footing and balance. Don‟t carry
more they you can handle safely.
Paddling - Be sure canoe is not overloaded and weights are
balanced evenly.
Rapids - Portages are there for a reason. Use them!
PFDs/Life Jackets - It‟s a requirement to wear them when
on the water.

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Swimming - Swim with a buddy, do not dive or jump into
unknown depths (there may be hidden rocks).

Additional Considerations:
  Bears – Keep a clean camp, no food in tents, hang food
  pack and/or use bear resistant containers
  Bugs (mosquitoes, no-see-ums, black flies) - Bring
  repellant and/or head nets.
  Bees – watch for hives above and below ground.
  Poison Ivy – Found in scattered places in the BWCAW
  including portages and campsites.
  Fish – Know fish consumption advisories if you plan to
  eat fish. .

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