Howling winds, hot dry days, and hillsides covered with cheatgrass are key ingredients for an extremely hazardous wildfire season.
The victims of Carson City's Waterfall fire have suffered the dangers of wildfire firsthand. The fire cleaned fuels out of much of the west side of Carson City, but many neighborhoods throughout this community and surrounding areas are still at risk because of unmanaged fuels.
What are these fuels? Wildfire fuel includes wildland vegetation such as sagebrush, bitterbrush, rabbitbrush and cheatgrass. It also includes ornamental plants in the home landscape, firewood around homes and, unfortunately, homes and structures. The fuel characteristics of a house and the adjacent vegetation are the most influential factors in determining house survivability during a wildfire.
Three factors control wildfire behavior: weather, topography and fuel. We can only change the fuels. We change fuels by reducing the amount of fuel, shortening the height, increasing the moisture content, decreasing the continuity, and keeping hazardous fuels, including plants, away from structures.
Do you have an area between your house and an oncoming wildfire where the vegetation has been managed to reduce the wildfire threat and allow firefighters to safely defend the house? Do you have a noncombustible area immediately adjacent to the house; and a lean, clean, and green area extending out 30 to 200 feet, depending on the slope of your land?
If you want to know more about creating a lean, clean and green zone around your home, call University of Nevada Cooperative Extension at 887-2252 in Carson City and Storey County, 782-9960 in Douglas County, or 784-4848 in Reno/Sparks.
We can recommend a number of ways for you to make your home safer from the threat of wildfire. We have "Living With Fire" videos and DVDs available for free checkout. We have a "Living With Fire" Web site, www.livingwithfire.info, with many publications to guide you in creating a more survivable home. In Carson City, we will also come to your home and do a free defensible-space evaluation. Call 887-2252 to make an appointment.
Help with trees
Volunteer opportunities: Help make trees grow on the hills again! Now is the time to volunteer. One thousand Jeffrey pine seedlings have been planted in Lakeview. We need teams of volunteers to water them once a week so they will survive. Individuals, service clubs, youth organizations, schools, and churches can schedule a day or two this summer to water the young trees. Water is available at the site, but volunteers need to bring gallon milk containers or watering cans. We recommend hiking boots or sturdy shoes, sunscreen, a hat and drinking water. Volunteers need to be able to hike up and down the hillside safely.
Those who prefer working on a level site can contribute to reforestation efforts by helping to transplant Jeffrey pine seedlings at the Nevada Division of Forestry Nursery on Tuesdays.
Call 887-2252 to volunteer. Help rebuild the forest!
For more gardening information, contact me, 887-2252, or e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org or your local University of Nevada Cooperative Extension office. Check out many useful horticulture publications at www.unce.unr.edu. "Ask a Master Gardener" by e-mailing email@example.com.
- JoAnne Skelly is the Carson City/Storey County Extension educator for University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.