Director’s Update May 2008: It’s Wildfire Season

[NOTE: This was sent to DCNR employees May 1.]

Allen Biaggi, director of the Nevada Dept. of Conservation and Natural ResourcesGood afternoon to everyone in the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. This is the second of the Director’s Office updates on activities and issues ongoing in the Department.

We are entering the wildfire season so this month’s report has a fire focus.

Thanks to all of you who responded last month with regard to these updates. I hope they continue to be useful to you. I’m still interested in your feedback and don’t forget to sign up for the Department’s news as it happens (see the bottom of the email.) Let me know how we can make this monthly update more useful for you.

Enjoy Spring!

Allen Biaggi
Director

Forestry employee in recovery

Richard D. Sharp recently collapsed from a heart attack while doing a firefighting pack test in Winnemucca. This test is a requirement for all firefighters and is a prerequisite for our fire suppression efforts for the upcoming season. It is a fairly rigorous test that requires covering three miles with a 45 pound pack in 45 minutes. Two years ago I did the test and can assure you it is quite demanding. Protocol requires that EMTs be on hand in case of an emergency. Thankfully Richard was administered CPR immediately by Gary Davis, Mary McDowell and Steve Sweetland, which saved his life. He was later transferred to a hospital in Reno and is now recovering at home. We wish Richard a speedy recovery and commend the quick actions by his NDF co-workers, as well as the employees (Cory Moore, Mike Erquiaga and Jody Weintz) who professionally managed the situation.

Budget update

Governor Gibbons and legislative leadership worked diligently to identify budget cuts for fiscal year 2009. Efforts have now primarily turned to addressing potential shortfalls in the biennial budget we are now preparing (fiscal years 2010 and 2011). Revenue projections suggest significant ongoing shortfalls through the next biennium which may result in further reductions in expenditures. We will work hard to address these reductions to ensure our core missions are protected and the impacts to our employees are minimized.

Wildfire: the search for solutions

The Department recently partnered with the University of Nevada, Reno to produce a publication devoted to finding solutions to the state’s wildfire problem. The University convened a forum of eminent and highly experienced range scientists to discuss the Great Basin’s fire problems and develop policy recommendations. The resulting publication (which I think is excellent) may be downloaded here: http://www.cabnr.unr.edu/naes/wildfireforum.pdf.

The sheep are back

One solution to wildfires is evident in Carson City. The sheep are grazing cheatgrass again in the hills in order to control this invasive species and slow fires when they come. You may watch a video of the project here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YswfgXQyNeM.

Controlled burn slideshow

Another part of the solution is conducting controlled burns to manage vegetation. The Nevada Division of Forestry and Storey County Fire Department held a controlled burn recently in Storey County’s community of Lockwood. You may view a slideshow of the burn here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nevadadcnr/sets/72157604435240651/show/.

Wildland Fire Awareness Week is May 17-24

Finally, raising awareness of the wildfire problem is critical. Statewide events are being held for Wildland Fire Awareness Week May 17 through 24. View a calendar of events here: http://www.livingwithfire.info/?click=nevadafireweek.

Volunteers needed for water quality

The 8th annual Water Quality Snapshot Day will be held Saturday, May 10, in Reno, Truckee and Lake Tahoe, and volunteers are needed to help conduct the water quality sampling. For information, call Mary Kay Riedl at (775) 687-9454 (Truckee River-Nevada portion), Beth Christman at (530) 550-8760 (Truckee River – California portion) or Susie Kocher at (530) 542-2571 (Lake Tahoe).

State Parks opens new campground at Big Bend

Big Bend State Recreation Area has a new, multi-million dollar campground. If you haven’t been there yet, Big Bend on the Colorado River is an amazing recreation area. The campground is full service and can accommodate tent and car camping as well as full hookups for RV’s. This is a great addition to our state park system.

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