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RELEASE DATE: April 13, 2007
CONTACT: Jennifer Myslivy- Battle Mountain Fire Mitigation & Education Specialist
Phone: 775-635-4122
EMAIL: jennifer_myslivy@nv.blm.gov

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Battle Mountain Field Office (BMFO), is beginning the process of planning a hazardous fuels reduction program that may benefit local landowners/ranchers. Area landowners/ranchers, that have infrastructure (homes, barns, etc), hay stacks, well heads, and equipment sheds immediately adjacent to BLM-administered lands may have the opportunity to mitigate hazardous fuels prior to the onset of fire season. The goal of this program is to allow the landowner to create a defensible space around their property prior to a potential wildfire. This program will give the landowner the chance to create fire/fuel breaks in cheat grass-prone established areas by mowing, disking or blading these areas.

The Battle Mountain Field Office envisions local property owners being able to perform these types of mitigations once approved on adjacent public lands prior to the onset of fire season. Each landowner will be required to work closely with the office since the BLM must still comply with certain Federal laws, such as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).

Dave Davis, Battle Mountai Field Office Fire Management Officer states, “If all of the private land owners were to take this proactive approach in mitigating wildland fire threats to their private homes, barns, etc., the BLM and other fire fighting agencies would be able to focus their firefighting efforts on controlling the wildfire and spend less effort, time and monies protecting private property." Davis believes this proactive approach would help reduce suppression costs to the American taxpayers, because most wildfires would be smaller in terms of acres.

The BLM states the size and location of any fire breaks constructed on BLM managed lands would require: 1) a simple map, including the fire lines location, width and estimated distances to structures, etc.; and 2) scheduling a visit with the Battle Mountain Field Office prior to implementation so an archaeologist can perform a visual survey of the proposed fire break. This survey will ensure any significant archaeological items are properly protected under the laws the BLM is charged with enforcing.

Once inventoried for archaeological resources, the land owner will be contacted by the BLM and given the approval to construct the fire break. A follow-up visit by the BLM will ensure the agreed upon location and size of the fire break was constructed by the land owner.

The BLM anticipates the strong potential for a lengthy and possibly severe fire season in 2007. The heavy carry-over fuels in the form of cheatgrass, weeds, and other annual vegetation along with normal green-up of these types of fuels may contribute to another severe fire season in northern Nevada. Home owners should begin working on the defensible space around their properties prior to the onset of fire season.

Davis also noted, “Locally, several small fires near McDermit and Carson City have occurred during the week of March 5th, and all were either human or industrial caused. The McDermit area fire had the potential to be several thousand acres; but was stopped at 200+ acres using heavy equipment from Humboldt County. Lander County faces similar fire conditions, with a 3,000+ acre human caused fire occurring on April 10th in the Reese River Valley area. Unless significant rainfall occurs over the next several weeks, we could be in an unusually early fire season."

For more information on this project, contact Jennifer Myslivy, Fire Education and Mitigation Specialist, or Dave Davis, Fire Management Officer for further details or to schedule an appointment for a visit to your property.

In addition, to the hazard fuels reduction project(s) that may be done on public lands adjacent to your homes prior to fire season; the time is here to start creating that “survivable space” on your private property. With the weather starting to warm up, it is time to get started on cleaning around our homes and any outlying buildings before a wildfire may threaten your property or community. Firewise landscaping can create a line of defense against the threat of wildfire by creating a safety zone or “survivable space” around your home. The goal is to break the chain of flammable fuel between your home and the wildland.

Creating defensible steps include space: Examine your yard or subdivision. Identify what can catch fire and carry it to the house or houses. Is the tall grass and thistles cleared from around your propane tank and is the tank the proper distance from your home? Do firefighters have a safety zone for battling the fire? Are you sure that firefighters can safely find and reach your
home? Is your street address plainly visible? Is your firewood a safe distance from your home?

Defensible space may be created by: Group together plants with similar water needs, and space them in your landscape to create a “fuel mosaic” that will conserve water and protect against a “fire ladder.’ (A fire ladder is created when plants are arranged next to each other in a way that allows flame to move from the ground up into taller vegetation where it is more difficult to stop.) You can landscape for fire protection while maintaining a natural look to your surroundings. Work with the plants native to the site using the pattern found in nature. A list of plants can be found by calling your local fire agency or visiting FIREWISE.org on the internet. There are no fireproof plants, but some plants are more fire-resistant than others. Use these considerations when choosing plants and trees. When a firewise landscape has been installed, it must be regularly maintained to preserve its fire resistance.

Access: Your driveway and its access for fire fighters and their engines are a critical point in defensible/survivable space. A one-way in/out situation with heavy brush, trees or grass is not a safe entry/exit for a fire engine and its crew. The driveway should be cleared to 30 plus feet on both sides to ensure a safe ingress/egress for fire fighters.

Any bridges that may access your property should have sufficient load bearing capacity for fire engines. Heavy wildland fire engines may exceed 26,000 pounds gross vehicle weight; with city structure engines weighing even more.

In addition to the above information, the Nevada Fire Safe Council’s “Living with Fire” program is a Nevada based program that can help identify, explain and give helpful information/tips on creating and maintaining survivable space. Please visit www.livingwithfire.info to access this crucial information or call your local fire agency for pamphlets, brochures or educational learning DVD’s.

The diagram on the right is a simple but informative description of what areas should be concentrated on when starting to create survivable space. If your home or property is located on steeper slopes or hill sides, the thirty (30) foot spacing should be increased to over 100 feet. This is because fires will move faster up-hill and create radiant heat that will cause a fire to spread faster and further.

Defensible Spcae Diagram

Last updated: 03-26-2015