Fire Safe’s fate still unclear, BLM says | NevadaAppeal.com

Fire Safe’s fate still unclear, BLM says

Sandi Hoover
shoover@nevadaappeal.com

The Bureau of Land Management is unlikely to have answers anytime soon for the Nevada Fire Safe Council regarding the council’s ability to operate after a federal audit showed irregularities in its handling of funds.

The council, which decided last week to close its doors Monday because of lack of funds, had not heard back from the three government agencies that have provided grants to the council since 1999 to help residents in its 135 Nevada communities create fire-resistant defensible space around their homes.

The BLM told the Nevada Appeal on Monday that the bureau is still waiting for documents.

“We’re still waiting for more requested documentation – we’ve got a lot of paperwork to untangle,” said Erica Szlosek, public affairs officer for the BLM’s state office in Reno.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Forest Service’s Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit told the Appeal last week that the documentation required from the council for her agency’s audit was received in mid-March and is still under a review, and not expected to be complete until May 31.

The Nevada Division of Forestry has not yet responded to questions on its status in the investigation.

In February, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s inspector general said there was no indication that any fraud had occurred. It recommended that all funds be frozen, however, until reviews were complete, according to The Associated Press.

The council will keep its status as a nonprofit group until it learns its fate.