Rehabilitation program to be presented today | NevadaAppeal.com

Rehabilitation program to be presented today

by F.T. Norton

A team of experts brought in to evaluate damage done by the Waterfall fire has completed its plan for land rehabilitation and will explain it to the community from 6-8 p.m. tonight during an open house at the Carson City Community Center.

“The plan focuses on parts of the burned area that require emergency treatment such as water channels, roads and trails and areas of the fire that destroyed large amounts of vegetation,” said Jason Kirchner, spokesman for the Nevada Division of Forestry.

About 40 members of the Burned Area Emergency Response Team spent the last week in the hills of West Carson City assessing the damage caused by the 8,723-acre fire that destroyed 15 homes and a business on July 14 and 15.

“I am highly confident that while full recovery of the area may take many years, this team has developed a plan that will begin to heal the Carson City watershed,” said Genny Wilson, BAER team leader.

Recommendations by the team include:

• Installation of erosion treatments such as straw wattles, seeding and mulching to protect more than 516 homes.

• Reseeding of 5,264 acres.

• Posting warning and hazard signs to inform the public of threats in the area.

• Protection of critical water pipelines that feed Virginia City and Carson City in Vicee Canyon and along Lakeview Road.

• Repair and improve four miles of Kings Canyon Road, including installation of a rolling dip, removal of loosened rocks and clearing of roadside ditches to improve drainage.

• Installation of more than 3,500 log erosion barriers to reduce erosion in areas where the fire burned most intensely.

• Removal of 113 hazardous trees in the urban interface and along roadsides.

• Removal of 500 acres of weeds to reduce or stop the spreading of noxious weeds.

“Each of these recommendations outline some of the steps that agencies will take in order to reduce the threat to public safety,” Kirchner said. “However, it’s also important that members of the public obey posted closures and remain outside of the burned area.”

The BAER team will present the plan to each of the land-management agencies that own land in the burned area – Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, Nevada Division of Forestry, Nevada Division of Parks, Nevada Department of Wildlife and Carson City.

Each agency will then determine how best to implement the plan for the lands it manages.

The program will be discussed at tonight’s meeting.

“Because the meeting is an open-house format, there will be no formal presentation, and the public may come and go at any time during the scheduled two hours,” Kirchner said.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest announced plans to thin trees and remove dangerous accumulations of brush on 2,100 of the 5,500 acres between Bowers Mansion and the Mount Rose Highway on the west side of Washoe Lake, said spokesman Franklin Pemberton.

Pemberton said work will begin this fall and last three to five years.

“Unless we actively treat these fuels, more catastrophic wildfires are inevitable, like the one we just experienced,” said David Loomis, project manager.

The fuel-reduction work would primarily consist of fuel breaks near homes and thinned areas that would act as “speed bumps,” slowing the fire’s progression and reducing the intensity of the blaze. Within those areas, the Forest Service plans to reduce canopy cover to 40 percent with an average spacing between tree tops of 15 feet, Pemberton said.

“It’s important that we reduce the wildfire risk on this beautiful stretch of forest,” said Gary Schiff, Carson District ranger.

Contact F.T. Norton at ftnorton@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1213.