No more ‘fire season,’ NDF tells Elko County

No more ‘fire season,’ NDF tells Elko County

22 June 2013

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USA — ELKO — The days of wildfires being a seasonal problem are done, according to Nevada State Forester Pete Anderson.

The risk of large wildfires has grown, Anderson said, and the fire season has extended.

“It’s becoming a year-round issue,” he said.

Anderson spoke to the commission Wednesday and fielded questions from board members about the state’s Wildland Fire Protection Program.

The state’s fire team aims to address fighting year-round fires by developing comprehensive fire prevention plans, educating the public on fire issues, engaging in fuel management, and following up fires with rehabilitation.

“Counties pay an annual assessment to help fund the program based on wildland fire risk,” a handout Anderson provided the commission states. “Participation allows the State to provide financial assistance with wildland fire costs, use of (Nevada Division of Forestry) resources on other emergencies that threaten human life and property, increased availability of suppression forces for all, enhanced fuels reduction projects and improved restoration of burned areas.”

Participation in the program is voluntary.

The state firefighters will be “modular,” Anderson said, and travel to areas of the state as needed.

The county, which is in the process of developing a management plan for its own fire district by Jan. 1, took no action Wednesday. Assistant County Manager Cash Minor said he expects the county to join the wildland fire protection program at that time.

Commission Chairman Glen Guttry said the recent Colorado fires, which devastated the state so early in the year, could be indicative of things to come in the West.

“It’s pretty bleak,” he said.

Commissioner Grant Gerber asked the state forester to emphasize the need for fuel reduction when talking to federal agencies and state residents.

Gerber said reductions of grazing, logging and wood cutting were the primary causes of catastrophic wildfires.

“Before (reductions), we had virtually no fires,” he said.

County leaders also addressed potential burn bans.

The commission authorized NDF Fire Chief Tim Woolever to enact restrictions when his department deems them necessary. He said Wednesday there were no burn restrictions, but that county residents should expect them soon.

“We’re getting hot. We’re getting dry,” he said.

Commissioner Jeff Williams said fire restrictions should include banning exploding targets and shooting steel-jacket bullets, steel core bullets and tracer ammunition.

Williams suggested that designating a controlled area where people could use these types of bullets would prevent them from shooting devices linked to fire ignition in restricted areas.

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