Nevada Division of Forestry works to eliminate wildfire risk |

Nevada Division of Forestry works to eliminate wildfire risk

A machine grinds trees to make them into mulch chips. These trees were cut down as a way to thin the forest area to reduce wildfire risk. This is a process is a part of the Nevada Division of Forestry's fuels reduction project in the Clear Creek area.
Taylor Pettaway |

As a way to reduce wildfire risks and improve water quality, the Nevada Division of Forestry is thinning the trees in forest areas in Clear Creek.

By thinning the trees and reducing the density, it will help reduce the spread of wildfire and make it more manageable for firefighters to contain, and it will help with tree health against things like disease.

“The more trees that are in an area, the worse it is because they are competitive,” said Ryan Shane, Community Protection program coordinator for the Nevada Division of Forestry. “They are all trying to get the same resources, then the trees get stressed, especially with the drought, so they are more susceptible to disease and such which can take out whole forests. This way we are just taking out a few trees, instead of it wiping out a whole forest.”

By thinning the forest, it will reduce the ability of a forest fire to climb and jump across the crown tops of trees.

“We are trying to create a resilient vegetative community,” Shane said. “We want to prevent loss of life and property.”

The NDF is cutting down certain trees, ones that aren’t as mature and healthy as others. The larger logs will go to a saw mill in Quincy, the smaller ones will be sold as firewood, and the rest will be cut for mulch to nourish the land. The program is also using low impact equipment designated to not crush the brush and keep the landscape as untouched as possible. Dwayne Petite, Carson River Project Director compares it to the same impact as a snowfall. The plants are able to handle a certain amount of weight put on them, similar to snow, and they can still bounce back up without harm.

The fuels reduction project is happening all over Northern Nevada, from Washoe County to the Tahoe basin. Currently the organization is working in the Clear Creek area because of the grant funding it received for the project.

“It is a conglomeration of three federal grants,” Shane said. “Some of the grants are specific for where the federal land meets the state and local side, so that there is a seamlessness for the treatment and it isn’t pieces of the land getting treated.”

The area also was chosen by the grant awarders because it is a high profile area with its scenic route to Lake Tahoe and because it is a perennial tributary, which is an stream with continual flow year-round.

The impact of the forest thinning will also be monitored by the U.S. Geological Survey organization. They have been monitoring the sediments in the river for decades, and because they have a baseline, they will be able to see if the thinning will have a positive or negative impact on the environment said Hydrogeologist Jena Huntington.

“Because of human manipulation of the land, nature hasn’t had a hand in the landscape in a long time,” Petite said. “We are trying to reset it to the way Mother Nature had it.”