Resource Concepts, Inc.
Celebrating 31 Years 1978-2009
Engineering • Surveying • Resources & Environmental Services
The North Foothill Road Corridor community is located directly south of Genoa and north of Sheridan Acres along Foothill Road on the west side of Carson Valley. The community is situated on east-facing alluvial fans and benches above the Carson River floodplain. The community is partially bordered by US Forest Service lands to the west and by private agricultural lands to the east. Approximately 200 homes were observed in the community during the assessment. The hazard assessment resulted in classifying North Foothill Road Corridor in the High Hazard category (63 points). A summary of the factors that determine this hazard rating is included in Table 19-2. The primary hazards for the North Foothill Road Corridor community are the potential for extreme fire behavior and the proximity of water sources for fire suppression, and the availability of volunteer fire suppression resources.
The North Foothill Road Corridor interface area is characterized by the 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. All residences observed in the North foothill Road Corridor community were on lots greater than one acre in size (see Figure 19-1).
Approximately thirteen percent of the homes assessed had wood shake roofing materials. The remaining 87 percent of the homes assessed were built with fire resistant siding materials and non-combustible roofing materials. About eighteen percent of the homes observed have unenclosed balconies, porches, decks, or other architectural features that create drafts and provide areas where sparks and firebrands can be trapped, smolder, ignite, and rapidly spread fire to the home.
A majority, 89 percent, of the homes in the interface had landscaping that would meet the minimum defensible space requirement to help protect the home from damage or loss during a wildfire.
The Nevada Division of Forestry Sierra Forest Fire Protection District, the East Fork Fire and Paramedic Districts Sheridan Volunteer Fire Department Station 8, and Genoa Volunteer Fire Department Station 3 provide wildland and structure fire protection to the North Foothill Road Corridor community. 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 station.
There are no fire hydrants available for residents of the North Foothill Road Corridor community. The nearest drafting sources for fire suppression include a 500,000-gallon tank and a 120,000-gallon static fill tank in the Sheridan Acres community and two tanks with a cumulative capacity of 850,000 gallons in Genoa. For most areas of the community the water sources are at a distance requiring more than a twenty-minute turnaround time. Emergency generators are not available for the pumps on the wells that fill the tanks. Hydrants are available in the Job’s Peak Ranch subdivision located south of the community. The Carson River and ranch ponds may be available for use as helicopter dip sites.
Vegetation, dead and down fuels, and topographic features contribute to the potential fire hazard around wildland-urban interface communities. The fuel hazards were mapped for North Foothill Road Corridor, and fuel hazard photos were taken to provide additional information for the vegetation type descriptions (see Figures 19-2 and 19-3).
The terrain around North Foothill Road Corridor is generally flat with east-facing slopes less than eight percent, however a few small areas of the community lie on slopes in excess of forty percent. Fire ignitions have occurred within the vicinity of the community from both human and lightning causes. The 1996 Autumn Hills Fire burned 3,804 acres at the southwest end of the community. In 1988 approximately 100 acres burned between Kingsbury Grade and Foothill Road. Another fire burned 320 acres on the northwest side of the community in 1984. The predominant wind direction is downslope from the south/southwest, especially in the late afternoon.
Four major vegetation types occur within the vicinity of the North Foothill Road Corridor community including Jeffrey pine/sagebrush, sagebrush/bitterbrush, recovering sagebrush/ rabbitbrush (Autumn Hills fire), and irrigated pasturelands. Irrigated pasturelands are located on the east side of the community, generally east of Foothill Road. They provide an effective greenstrip on the east side of the community and are considered a low fuel hazard.
In the unburned areas within and directly adjacent to the community, the vegetation predominantly consists of big sagebrush, bitterbrush, desert peach, and rabbitbrush. Ground fuels include Indian ricegrass, cheatgrass, and filaree. No ground fuels are present in the Tomerlin subdivision near the south end of the community. Shrubs are dense and shrub heights range between two and eight feet. The fuel load was estimated to be between three and six tons per acre and was considered a moderate fuel hazard.
Further upslope of the community, the vegetation is dominated by a Jeffrey pine overstory, with a shrub and grass understory similar in species composition and density to downslope areas. The fuel loads in the Jeffrey pine area were estimated between four and eighteen tons per acre and were considered an extreme fuel hazard.
Areas of the community burned by the Autumn Hills Fire in 1996 are primarily composed of rabbitbrush, desert peach, cheatgrass, Indian ricegrass and filaree. Shrubs are widely spaced and are less than four feet in height. The fuel load was estimated at two to four tons per acre and considered a moderate fuel hazard.
The unburned areas further north consist of either high-density big sagebrush and rabbitbrush with a cheatgrass understory or big sagebrush, bitterbrush, and rabbitbrush with low density Jeffrey pine. Fuel loads were estimated to range between four and six tons per acre and were considered a high fuel hazard.
The worst-case scenario for the North Foothill Road Corridor would likely occur in the event of a dry lightning storm in which several ignitions occurred on the mountain southwest or west of the community. Driven by 25 mile per hour winds, any fire ignition could result in a crown fire capable of rapid spread downhill toward the community, especially north of the Autumn Hills burn where high hazard fuels surround homes. Spot fires could result in multiple fire fronts near residences in the community and could increase the difficulty for fire suppression personnel protecting homes. If Foothill Road were to be closed due to fire or low visibility either between Genoa and Muller Lanes or between Muller and Mottsville Lanes, homeowner evacuation could be limited.
North Foothill Road Corridor has a high ignition risk. Several fires and ignitions have occurred immediately adjacent to the community (Figure 19-1). The predominant ignition risks for North Foothill Road Corridor are lightning and sparking power lines. However, human caused fires can occur at any time.
The North Foothill Road Corridor 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 North Foothill Road Corridor.
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 30 feet to 200 feet depending upon slope and vegetative fuel type) reduces fire intensity and improves firefighter and homeowner chances for successfully defending a structure against an oncoming wildfire.
Fuel reduction treatments are applied on a larger scale than defensible space treatments. By permanently changing the fuel structure over large blocks of land to one of a lower volume or reduced flammability (a fuel reduction treatment), the expected result in the event of a catastrophic wildfire would be one of reduced capacity for uncontrolled spread through the treatment area.
Many of the most effective activities aimed at reducing the threat of wildfire for the North Foothill Road Corridor require that individual property owners coordinate with each other and with local fire authorities. Defensible space, for example, is more effective in small communities when applied uniformly throughout entire neighborhoods. Public education and awareness, neighbors helping neighbors, and proactive individuals setting examples for others to follow are just a few of the approaches that will be necessary to meet the fire safe goals in the community. Disposal of biomass generated from defensible space and fuel reduction treatments can sometimes be most efficiently handled through community programs.
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 according to the defensible space guidelines in Appendix D.|
|Fuels Reduction||Reduce vegetative fuels for a distance of ten feet on both sides of private driveways longer than 200 feet.
Coordinate with the Nevada Division of Forestry, EFFPD, and the US Forest Service to construct and maintain the proposed fuelbreak on the southwest side of the community.
|Fire Suppression Capability||Consider purchasing a fire retardant gel or foam product designed for homeowner use.|
|Community Coordination||Form a local chapter of the Nevada Fire Safe Council.|
|US Forest Service||Fuels Reduction||Coordinate with property owners to construct a 400-foot wide shaded fuelbreak for a distance of approximately one mile on the west side of the community, for a total treatment of approximately 48 acres.|
|Douglas County||Fuels Reduction||Remove brush for a distance of 25 feet on the west side of Foothill Road. Remove all shrubs with mechanical mastication equipment, and plant fire-resistant perennial grasses and wildflowers.|
|Utility Company||Fuels Reduction||Remove trees or trim any branches within fifteen feet of either side of power lines and poles throughout the North Foothill Road Corridor community.|
|East Fork Fire and Paramedic Districts
Nevada Division of Forestry
|Fuels Reduction||Coordinate with property owners to construct a 400-foot wide shaded fuelbreak for a distance of approximately one mile on the west side of the community, for a total treatment of approximately 48 acres.|
|Community Coordination||Distribute copies of the publication “Living With Fire” to all property owners.|
North Foothill Road Corridor Wildfire Hazard Rating Summary
North Foothill Road Corridor Fire History, Suppression Resources, and Proposed Mitigation Projects
North Foothill Road Corridor Fuel Hazard Classification
Photo Point 1. North Foothill Road Corridor. 4311702N, 0254209E, 205°SW. Below the tree line, big sagebrush, bitterbrush, and rabbitbrush are the primary shrub species present in the community. These unburned areas had an estimated fuel load of two to four tons per acre and were considered a high fuel hazard.
Photo Point 2. North Foothill Road Corridor. 4312103N, 253453E, 250°W. The Autumn Hills burn consists primarily of rabbitbrush, sagebrush, and bitterbrush. The fuel load was estimated at one to two tons per acre and was considered a moderate fuel hazard.
Photo Point 3. North Foothill Road Corridor. 4319528N, 0254299E, 265°W. In the unburned areas north of the 1984 fire, the vegetative fuels consist of high density big sagebrush and rabbitbrush with a cheatgrass understory. Fuel loads were estimated to range between four and six tons per acre and the vegetation was considered a high fuel hazard.