County, BLM talk wildfire preparedness |

County, BLM talk wildfire preparedness

Aly Lawson
The county recognized Chief Financial Officer Alan Kalt and the Churchill County Museum's Pauline Alles for 25 years of service. From left, Commissioner Bus Scharmann, Kalt, Alles and Commissioner Carl Erquiaga.

The Churchill County Board of Commissioners met Wednesday to discuss county and Carson City District of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) wildfire preparedness.

Dennis Strange, fire management officer for the BLM’s Carson City District Office, gave a brief overview and answered questions.

Due to the increased amount of water in the region related to the record-breaking Sierra snowpack, he said vegetation fuel this fire season is up 150-200 percent. He added so far fires have mainly been human caused, noted the recent round of lightning and mentioned the recent Cold Springs fire burning about 40 acres; they immediately deployed an aircraft to scout the remote area since it took two hours to reach the scene.

“We rely a lot on the public,” he said of fire reporting and encouraged citizens to call 911 if they suspect a fire is burning.

Strange added they have relationships with dispatchers and communication centers as well as a preplanned forward response. They also dispatch engines to be present on a regular basis in areas that reach a certain hazard threshold, assuming those resources are not needed elsewhere he said.

Commissioner Bus Scharmann asked if an agreement was in place with BLM fire and the Fallon/Churchill Volunteer Fire Department. Strange said no agreement is in place but there has been a loose one in the past and they are looking to change that.

“We’re all part of a collective system so if they had a specific need that we could help fill, we would send that resource out there,” Strange said after outlining other recent fires and conditions, noting the collective system is a nationwide effort.

The board discussed the Nevada Division of Forestry and Wildland Fire Protection Program aiding local departments when larger fires occur as well as with costs. Strange added they still want to have local agreements because that will help with initial attacks and planning.

Strange responded to Commissioner Carl Erquiaga that he thought there are about 12-15 related web cameras in the region “and we’re looking to get more.”

“I appreciate the questions and the engagement,” Strange concluded, adding he would always be happy to have meetings if needed or Q&As.

County employees were recognized for their years of service including the following: Jason Fenner, Sheriff’s Office (five years); Ona Hunt, Facilities, Parks & Recreation (five years); Matthew Timmons, Sheriff’s Office (10 years); Tracy Haffner, Assessor’s Office (10 years); Sherry Wideman, Comptroller’s Office (10 years); Bill Lofthouse, Sheriff’s Office (15 years); Motulalo Otuafi, Juvenile Probation (15 years); Alan Kalt, Comptroller’s Office (25 years); and Pauline Alles, museum (25 years).

“You all step above and beyond,” said County Manager Eleanor Lockwood.

Lockwood also gave a flood update and mentioned ongoing meetings. She added that last week they increased flows in the river due to the Lahontan Dam level being at the splashboards. Also, she said the V-line canal weir was opened up this Thursday to release some of the water in that direction. The county manager added extra funding is being sought and likely to come in for extra mosquito abatement.

“So stay tuned,” she said. “All things are going good but we’re asking everyone to remain diligent. The snow is up there. It’s hot and will continue … We’re looking at conditions at all times and we’ve got a good team in place.”

The commission also approved the following:

Nevada Public Agency Insurance Pool (POOL) renewal proposal and approval for payment from fiscal year 2017-18 funds.

Interlocal contract between the county and State of Nevada, Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Child and Family Services, for fiscal years 2018 and 2019. Also acceptance of welfare set-aside funding from the State of Nevada, Housing Division, for fiscal year 2018.

Alternate appointments for the Central Nevada Regional Water Authority Board of Directors — county manager as an alternate for board directors Norman Frey and Bjorn Selinder, and Commissioner Bus Scharmann as an alternate for board director Commissioner Pete Olsen.

Resolution 169-2017, augmenting the fiscal year 2016-17 county budget due to greater than anticipated opening fund balances and revenues in accordance with the Nevada Revised Statutes.

Deed of conservation easement addendum with E & C Schank Properties, LLC adding thereto additional property subject to the conservation easement.

Special assessment on each taxable parcel in the Carson Desert and Lovelock Valley Groundwater Basins for the secured tax roll 2017-18.

Parcel map for the Travers Trust property located at 1955 Soda Lake Road (to split parcel in two).

The next meeting will be July 5 at 8:15 a.m. in the commission chambers.