Resource Concepts, Inc.
Celebrating 31 Years 1978-2009
Engineering • Surveying • Resources & Environmental Services
The Healthy Forests Initiative was announced by the White House in 2002 to implement the core components of the National Fire Plan Collaborative Approach for Reducing Wildland Fire Risks to Communities and the Environment 10-year Comprehensive Strategy. The Plan calls for more active forest and rangeland management to reduce the threat of wildland fire in the wildland-urban-interface, the area where homes and wildlands meet. This report addresses communities within Eureka County identified in the 2001 Federal Register list of communities at risk within the vicinity of federal lands.
The Nevada Fire Safe Council contracted Resource Concepts, Inc. (RCI) to assemble a project team of experts in the fields of fire behavior and suppression, forest and rangeland ecology, and geographic information systems (GIS) to complete the evaluation for each Eureka County community listed in the Federal Register. The RCI Project Team spent several days inventorying conditions in Eureka County and completing the primary data collection and verification portion of the risk assessment. Field visits were conducted in July 2004.
Five primary factors that affect potential fire hazard were assessed to reach the community hazard assessment score: community design, construction materials, defensible space, availability of fire suppression resources, and physical conditions such as the vegetative fuel load and topography. Information on fire suppression capabilities and responsibilities for Eureka County communities was obtained through interviews with local fire chiefs and state and federal agency fire management officers. This information was compiled objectively and consistently for all Nevada communities at risk using ranking criteria developed for Nevada.
The Fire Specialist on the RCI Project Team assigned an ignition risk rating of low, moderate, or high to each community. That rating was based upon historical ignition patterns, interviews with local fire department and state and federal agency personnel, field visits to each community, and professional judgment based on experience with wildland fire ignitions in Nevada.
Existing Bureau of Land Management fuel hazard data for the wildland-urban interface was evaluated and field-verified by the Fire and Resource Specialists on the RCI Project Team. The interface fuel hazard condition was determined to be low, moderate, high, or extreme based upon vegetation composition and structure, topography and aspect.
Nine Eureka County communities were identified in the Federal Register (66 FR 160) for inclusion in this report. Table 1-1 lists the communities and identifies the risks and hazard assessment results for each community.
|Interface Fuel Hazard Condition||Ignition Risk||Community
|Beowawe||Intermix||Low to High||Moderate||Moderate|
|Diamond Valley||Intermix||Low to Moderate||Low||Moderate|
|Eureka||Classic Interface||Moderate to Extreme||High||High|
|Grass Valley||Rural||Low to Moderate||Low||N/A*|
|Palisade||Intermix||Low to High||Moderate||Moderate|
|Pine Valley||Rural||Low to High||High||N/A*|
|Pioneer Pass||Classic Interface||Low to Moderate||Moderate||Moderate|
|* The Community Hazard Assessment procedures are not applicable to rural communities.|
Eureka County spans a broad range of elevations from the Monitor Range in the south to the Humboldt River in the north. The county has an extensive wildfire history over the past twenty years: approximately ten percent of the total county has burned since 1980.
The majority of the communities in Eureka County are small and several have some component of agricultural lands in the interface that creates a fuelbreak for residents. Two communities, Grass Valley and Pine Valley, are considered rural ranch communities. Residences in these communities are typically spaced far apart with large expanses of agricultural or public land interspersed between private properties. Rural ranch communities generally have a lower potential for damage to residences from wildfire if they are surrounded by irrigated pasture, stockyards, corrals widened driveways and other features that have low fuel hazards. But, other assets such as stockpiled hay, equipment, and fences are at risk of damage or loss if not protected by defensible space.
Eureka is the largest community in Eureka County with approximately 450 residents (Nevada State Demographer 2003). Dense pinyon-juniper woodlands on steep slopes around a portion of the community represent the most hazardous wildland-urban interface fuel conditions in the county. Other communities with high fuel hazard conditions in the interface include Beowawe, Palisade, and Pine Valley.
Fire protection for communities throughout Eureka County is provided by six local volunteer fire departments organized as part of the Nevada Division of Forestry Eureka County Fire Protection District. Volunteer response to wildland fire reports is dependent upon the time of the call. The Nevada Division of Forestry conservation camp in Carlin also provides Type 2-trained Hand Crews, Incident Command, and a bulldozer for wildland fire suppression. The Carlin Fire Department in neighboring Elko County responds, if available, to wildland fires reported near the communities in the north part of the County.
The Bureau of Land Management is the biggest land administrator in Eureka County and provides wildfire protection with resources dispatched from the Central Nevada Dispatch Center in Winnemucca and the Elko Interagency Dispatch Center in Elko. BLM equipment and resources that are available to respond to a wildland fire in Eureka County include brush engines, water tenders, air attack, a helicopter, and a Single Engine Air Tanker. The Bureau of Land Management has been actively planning and implementing fuel reduction treatments in the interface areas around the communities of Diamond Valley, Crescent Valley, and Eureka.
Recommendations for creating defensible space are given to landowners in each of the communities in this report. For those who have already implemented defensible space measures on their property the recommendation is a reminder that maintenance of defensible space needs to be performed every year. Defensible space entails not only vegetation removal within the area around the home, but also around outbuildings and hay and equipment storage areas on ranches. Defensible space is the homeowner’s responsibility and is an essential first line of defense for saving lives and property during a catastrophic wildland fire.
The RCI Project Team concurs with the Bureau of Land Management fuel reduction plans and treatment recommendations for Crescent Valley, Diamond Valley, and Eureka and recommends prioritization of treatments on interface areas within one mile of the community boundaries. An additional recommendation for the property owners in Eureka is to expand the BLM fuel reduction treatment on the east side of the community to include removal of pinyon and juniper and to thin the existing shrub layer to reduce the fuel hazard on private land. Fuel reduction recommendations are also made for the Union Pacific Railroad and electric utility company right-of-ways.
All communities have gaps in radio coverage due to the terrain. Improving and maintaining radio communications is important throughout the county for fire suppression personnel and fire dispatch. Recommendations for Volunteer Fire Departments, Nevada Division of Forestry, and the Bureau of Land Management to meet annually prior to the fire season to review pre-attack plans and to coordinate firefighting resources and response procedures should include testing radio compatibility and coverage.
Forming local chapters of the Nevada Fire Safe Council is recommended for the communities of Beowawe, Diamond Valley, and Eureka. Local Fire Safe Council Chapters become part of a large network that shares information and receives notification of programs and funding opportunities to implement fuel reduction treatments.
There is no way to completely eliminate the threat of wildfire in the wildland-urban interface. The recommendations in this report are based upon analyses of community-specific conditions in Eureka County. The recommendations in this report are meant to:
Acknowledging the need for ongoing fuels management on public and private lands is vital for fire safe living in a wildfire-prone environment. The best possible assurance for long-term community safety from wildfire requires a permanent commitment to the enforcement of fire safe ordinances at the local level. Mandatory fuels management includes regular monitoring and evaluation of fuel conditions and maintenance or implementation of additional fuel reduction treatments as development continues to encroach at the wildland-urban interface.
Any of the following agencies or organizations can be contacted for further information and assistance:
|Nevada Fire Safe Councilemail@example.com
|Nevada Division of Forestry||Fire Program Coordinator
|Nevada Association of Countiesfirstname.lastname@example.org.|
|Bureau of Land Management Nevada State Office||Nevada BLM State Fire Management Officer
|Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Supervisors Office||H-T Supervisors Office Fire Staff Officer