With the fire season potentially just weeks away, western Nevada is losing firefighting crews stationed at Silver Springs Conservation Camp.
The camp is the latest victim of the state's budget crunch. Director of Corrections Howard Skolnik said the camp has been operating at 50 percent capacity, as has the female conservation camp at Jean in Southern Nevada.
To save operating costs, Skolnik said, the women at Silver Springs will be transferred to Jean over the next couple of weeks.
"In these times of budget crisis, it is impossible to justify maintaining both operations," he said.
State Forester Pete Anderson said that takes eight trained, 12-women firefighting teams out of western Nevada.
Anderson said it's good news for southern Nevada, where the fire season has already begun, "but it leaves us short here."
He said Skolnik has committed to increasing the number of inmate crews at Stewart in south Carson City, but that it will take time to train them. He said he has already arranged for a crew supervisor to begin that training.
Anderson said he has been told the "mothballing" of Silver Springs is a temporary situation.
"We're hopeful this will be short term," he said.