Nevada News Service
As the start of wildfire season approaches in Nevada, trees that are severely dry from the drought may pose a serious threat as a form of fuel.

Are drought-ravaged trees the new wildfire fuel?

RENO — Drought-ravaged trees could pose a serious threat to homeowners and forest communities as Nevada’s wildfire season gets underway.

Amy Ray, a fire marshal with the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District, said years of drought has caused many trees to dry out, which could create dangerous conditions during wildfire season.

“It is a greater threat, because once fire moves into the trees and it’s able to climb into the tops of trees, that’s what we call the potential for a crown fire,” she said.

Ray said a crown fire spreads among the treetops rather than burning on the ground, which can be difficult to control. She said state and federal governments have not kept up with thinning dry trees in recent years, which has intensified the problem.

Beyond the dry trees and invasive weeds and grasses that are prime fuel for wildfire, Ray said Northern Nevada’s strong winds present another major challenge.

“Wind is a huge factor,” she said. “Wind decides where the fire goes and how fast it gets there. Wind is always our problem and always unpredictable, and fire will create its own wind if it gets big enough.

While several of Nevada’s worst wildfire seasons have occurred in the past decade, Ray said the Living With Fire website offers a wealth of wildfire preparedness information for Nevadans. The website URL is

Women’s cause starts in Nevada

DENIO — Few hikers are seen in the stark, high desert of northern Nevada – and even fewer in their 60s or 80s.

But three retired women made the trek this month. They want to call attention to a swath of land between Nevada’s Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge and Oregon’s Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge. It’s a corridor that some are concerned could end up being used for power-line placement or other development.

Hiker Julie Weikel said the women were pleased to find abundant wildlife, and the habitat on both refuges in good shape.

“Society is demanding that the BLM do a better job of its multiple-use mandate,” she said. “And that country has never looked better to me – and I’ve been coming and going out there for 25 years or so. It was beautiful.”

The hike started in the Catnip Reservoir area, covered just over 50 miles and took five days. Weikel said the women all are experienced backpackers, but they still chose to rely on others to meet them along the way with supplies.

At age 68 – and with companions of 65 and 80 – Weikel said she had thought this might be her last big backcountry adventure. But now, she’s hoping to be able to bring her grandchildren along in future years.

“I used to think I was going to retire from other people’s active agendas and just get to be a grandma and help raise these grandkids,” she said. “Now, I really think I can’t do a good job of that if I don’t help preserve these places.”

There’s a blog about their trek on the Oregon Natural Desert Association’s website.

Weikel’s advice to others who want to attempt this kind of hike is, be sure to carry enough water.

“If you do much hiking, you know that lots of people need three liters a day, when others need two,” she explains. “In our case, we turned out to be two-liter-a-day people. But water is certainly an issue, and we didn’t see a lot of what might have been usable water.”

In addition to its expansive views, sagebrush and wildflowers, the Sheldon refuge also is home to remnants of historic ranches, wild horses, pygmy rabbits, sage-grouse and pronghorn antelope.

A path nevada’s long-term jobless

LAS VEGAS – While economic conditions have been improving in Nevada since the end of the Great Recession, there are still many people struggling to find permanent work.

A program now taking applications aims to address that problem. It’s called Platform to Employment or P2E. It addresses the specific needs of those who have been jobless for an extended time.

“This workshop will help them with preparing them for skills assessment, career readiness coaching, some financial assistance, financial counseling, job readiness training, personal support services,” explains Kim Morigeau, an employment security specialist with the Employment Security Division of the State of Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

Those in the Las Vegas area, who have been unemployed 27 or more weeks or have exhausted their unemployment benefits, are encouraged to apply online at

The free five-week program will begin in late July and spots are limited.

Morigeau said last year P2E conducted its first pilot class in Las Vegas and the program has proven successful here and elsewhere.

“To date, 68 percent have returned back to work so far,” she said. “So we’re very proud of what they’ve done, and on a national level they’re looking at 80 percent or more that have returned to work.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of last year nearly 30 percent of the unemployed in Nevada were jobless for 27 weeks or more, and the longer a person is out of work, the harder it is to find a job.