Resource Concepts, Inc.
Celebrating 31 Years 1978-2009
Engineering • Surveying • Resources & Environmental Services
The recommendations in this report have been developed based on site-specific characteristics observed during the fire risk and hazard assessments performed by RCI in Churchill County. This report presents general and specific recommendations in order to provide a starting point for each community to take a proactive approach in reducing the risks to life, property, and natural resources from a wildland fire.
The communities in Churchill County vary from having a low risk of ignition and low hazard factors for the communities of Fallon and the Fallon NAS, to having moderate ignition risk and high hazard factors in the community of Eastgate. There have been some wildfires in close proximity to Middlegate, Eastgate, and Cold Springs. In these areas, there is a risk of annual grasses such as cheatgrass becoming the dominant plant species through repetitive fires. Cheatgrass presents a highly variable fuel hazard, as the annual production of flammable material is directly related to rainfall levels, however, neglecting to treat this highly flammable annual grass could lead to a greater ignition risk in the future.
The communities of Cold Springs, Eastgate, and Middlegate are prone to fires that will continue to threaten the communities and surrounding natural resources. To mitigate the potential moderate to high fuel hazard cheatgrass creates depending upon moisture levels, two greenstrips are proposed for the communities of Cold Springs and Middlegate. These proposed greenstrips will provide areas of less flammable vegetation that will reduce fire spread rates and burn intensities, thereby allowing more time for fire suppression resources to arrive on site before structures are threatened.
All of the communities in Churchill County must rely on the limited resources available from the Fallon/Churchill VFD and the Fallon NAS Fire Department, with additional resources available if needed from the Bureau of Land Management. Cold Springs, Middlegate, and Eastgate, the communities that experience the most frequent fire ignitions, do not have local fire protection. It is critical that property owners in these communities take every step possible to create adequate defensible space that will act as a buffer zone between their homes and the wildland areas, and to learn as much as possible about fire risks, hazards, and strategies to avoid damage from a wildland fire in their communities. Recommendations to acquire fire suppression equipment and install water drafting sources may aid in the reduction of fire risks and hazards to other communities in the county as well.
To be most effective, fire safe practices need to be implemented on a community-wide basis. There is no guarantee that a wildfire will not occur in any of these communities, even if all of the recommendations in this report are implemented. Nonetheless, public awareness, neighbors helping neighbors, and concerned, proactive individuals setting examples for others to follow are just some of the approaches necessary to reduce the risk of wildfire ignition and the hazards inherent in wildland interface areas.