Resource Concepts, Inc.
Celebrating 31 Years 1978-2009
Engineering • Surveying • Resources & Environmental Services
In 2004, Blackbull Wildfire Services completed an assessment entitled “Community Wildfire Threat Reduction and Project Implementation Plan for Fish Springs, September 2004,” on behalf of the Nevada Fire Safe Council. The pertinent information for this report is summarized from the Blackbull Fish Springs assessment.
Fish Springs is a community of approximately 700 residents located five miles east of Gardnerville, Nevada. The majority of the residences are located along the valley floor (4,900 feet elevation) and are surrounded by public land. The assessment resulted in classifying the Fish Springs community in the High Hazard category. The primary hazard factor for the Fish Springs area was the high fuel hazard vegetation.
The Fish Springs interface area is characterized by an intermix wildland-urban interface condition. Structures are scattered throughout the wildland area with no clear line of demarcation between wildland fuels and residences in the community. (Figure 10-1).
A majority of homes in the community lacked proper defensible space or vegetation clearance. In Fish Springs the recommended minimum defensible space distance ranged between 100 and 200 feet depending upon slope.
The Fish Springs Volunteer Fire Department (Station 9) of the East Fork Fire and Paramedic Districts is responsible for wildfire and structure fire protection in the Fish Springs community. At the time of the assessment, the Fish Springs VFD listed twenty volunteers on its roster (East Fork Fire Protection District website). See Tables 4-2 and 4-3 for more information on the typical fire suppression response for first-alarm wildland-urban interface fires in Douglas County. Appendix E lists the type and number of fire suppression vehicles located at each EFFPD and Douglas County VFD station.
The BLM / Interagency wildland fire resources will also respond to all wildland fire reports within the Fish Springs community. The BLM stations a wildland fire engine at the Fish Springs Volunteer Fire Department to respond to threats to the adjacent public land. The response will be initiated by the Sierra Front Interagency Dispatch Center.
No hydrants are available within the community; however, an 18,00-gallon tank is available as a drafting source at the VFD. There is also a 240,000 static fill tank located on Jo Lane in the East Valley community that can be used as a drafting source with less than a twenty-minute turn around time.
The Fish Springs community has shown interest in forming a local chapter of the Nevada Fire Safe Council; however, a chapter had not yet been formed at the time of the assessment. There is currently no evacuation plan for residents of the community, nor do the emergency and disaster plans provide information on safe zones within the community.
Vegetation, dead and down fuels, and topographic features contribute to the potential fire hazard around wildland-urban interface communities. The terrain in the community is generally flat with a box canyon near Burro Court and slopes of all aspects surrounding the edges of the community. There is a significant history of large fires and fire ignitions near the community.
The vegetation in the Fish Springs community was generally classified as a high hazard fuel type, dominated primarily by pinyon pine, Utah juniper, and big sagebrush.
In 2004 the BLM Carson Field Office funded a Student Conservation Association Fire Education Corp Team that completed a home demonstration project in the Fish Springs community. The Team made the residential site "fire wise" by removing and thinning hazardous fuels within a distance of fifty feet of the residence. Other homeowners were provided with defensible space educational materials and evaluations of defensible space conditions.
The Bureau of Land Management Carson City Field Office is implementing a fuel reduction treatment at the south end of the Fish Springs community along Pine Nut Road II from Out-R-Way to Lena Lane (Figure 10-2). The project area was first initiated by opening the area to public woodcutting between October 2004 and January 2005. Project specifications for the two treatment areas include reducing tree and shrub cover by approximately 90 percent using mechanical mastication. The mastication treatment is currently underway and will be completed in May 2005.
Additional fuel reduction treatments are scheduled to be completed in 2005 on private lands in the Bluebird Way-Wheaton Lane area of Fish Springs. A perimeter shaded fuelbreak and interior road treatments are planned. Trees will be thinned to approximately 40 trees per acres, brush removed, and limbs removed within four feet of the ground on remaining trees within the proposed treatment areas.
The worst-case scenario for the Fish Springs community would consist of several lightning or possibly human-caused ignitions starting west, southwest, or south of the southern end of the community, near Wheaton Lane. Fire ignitions could quickly threaten the community if they started in the afternoon of a windy, low humidity, day when helicopter or air tanker resources are already committed to other fires.
The risk assessment assigned Fish Springs a high ignition risk rating. A significant history of wildfire and fire ignitions exists in the public lands and private lands surrounding the community. High ignition rates are likely due to the high fuel loads in and around the community, the tendency for lightning storms during the summer, and the high number of people using the wildlands near Fish Springs.
The Fish Springs risk and hazard reduction recommendations focus on improving defensible space and promoting homeowner responsibilities. Other recommendations pertain to community coordination efforts that could be initiated to enhance the fire safe nature of the Fish Springs community. Recommendations are detailed below.
In addition to the following recommendations developed by Blackbull (2004), the RCI Project Team strongly recommends adding recommendations that pertain to defensible space. Defensible space treatments are an essential first line of defense for residential structures. Significantly reducing or removing vegetation within a prescribed distance from structures (minimum of 100 feet to 200 feet depending upon slope) reduces fire intensity and improves firefighter and homeowner chances for successfully defending a structure against an oncoming wildfire.
Nevada Fire Safe Council
1187 Charles Drive
Reno, Nevada 89509
|Involved Party||Recommended Treatment||Recommendation Description|
|Property Owners||Defensible Space||Remove, reduce, and replace vegetation around homes to create a minimum of seventy feet of defensible space.|
|Community Coordination||Form a local chapter of the Nevada Fire Safe Council.|
|BLM||Fuels Reduction Treatments||Complete construction of the planned fuel reduction treatments along Out-R-Way and Lena Lane.|
|Nevada Fire Safe Council
|Fuels Reduction Treatments||Complete construction of the planned fuel reduction treatments in the Bluebird Way-Wheaton Lane area.|
|East Fork Fire and Paramedic Districts||Fire Suppression Capability||Inventory known water sources and install additional 8,000 to 10,000-gallon dry hydrants in various locations throughout the community.
Develop a pre-attack plan for the Fish Springs community.
|Community Coordination||Develop a community fire notification and evacuation plan and install permanent signs showing clear ingress and egress routes within the community.
Prepare a community-wide fire safe plan for the community.
Fish Springs Community
Fish Springs BLM Planned Mitigation Project