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CARSON CITY, Nev.–Governor Jim Gibbons heard yesterday from wildfire managers from the Nevada Division of Forestry, U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management about projections for the 2007 wildfire season.
Experts informed the governor that northern Nevada will likely experience another devastating wildfire season this year. Nevada Fire Management Officer, Mike Dondero, of the Nevada Division of Forestry, said Nevada is very vulnerable to the potential for destructive wildfires because of the state having a very dry winter.
“The potential for catastrophic wild fires is very real,” Gibbons said. “If last year was the harbinger of what’s to come, this year could be much worse.”
Nevada counties are already experiencing significant drying of combustible vegetation due to higher temperatures, and there has been a wildfire every month this year so far, despite the winter months typically considered the off season for wildfires.
Gibbons encouraged increasing the state’s aerial capacity to fight fires as well as praising pre-suppression efforts. Sheep recently released to graze on hills on the west side of Carson City to create fuel breaks was one cited example. Using biomass, such as thinned Pinyon-juniper trees from eastern Nevada as part of the Fuels for Schools program, was another case in point. The Fuels for Schools program provides biomass for the elementary school in Ely.
“I am glad to hear it,” Gibbons said. “I certainly appreciate the efforts of everyone here to minimize the threats to life and property.”
Nevada has experienced larger and more intense fires across the state in the last few years. In 2006, there were 1,274 wildfires that burned more than 1.3 million acres throughout the state, primarily in eastern Nevada. In 2005 there were 782 wildfires that charred 1 million acres.
“Sagebrush habitats are being lost to invasive species—red brome in southern Nevada and cheatgrass in northern Nevada,” said Allen Biaggi, director of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “That is impacting our economy. We’re working with our federal partners—the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management—to protect our resources values that we have and to enhance them over time.”
Gibbons stressed preparedness for fires, and Nevada Division of Forestry firefighters are available to help residents and landowners better prepare for the onslaught of the fire season, including offering education programs and assistance to Volunteer Fire Departments.
Homeowners are recommended to visit http://www.livingwithfire.info/for information about how to best prepare homes for possible wildfires.