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 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 wildland meet. This report addresses communities in White Pine County, Nevada that were identified in the 2001 Federal Register list of at risk communities within the vicinity of federal lands.
The Nevada Fire Safe Council contracted with Resource Concepts, Inc. (RCI) to assemble a team of experts in the fields of fire behavior and suppression, forest and rangeland ecology, and geographic information systems (GIS) to complete the assessment for each White Pine County community listed in the Federal Register. The RCI Project Team spent several days inventorying conditions in White Pine County and completing the primary data collection and verification portion of the risk assessment. Field visits were conducted in August 2004.
Five primary factors that affect potential fire hazard were assessed to develop a 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 White Pine County communities was obtained through interviews with local fire chiefs and state and agency fire management officers. The RCI Fire Specialist assigned an ignition risk rating of low, moderate, or high to each community. That rating was based on historical ignition patterns, interviews with local fire department personnel, interviews with state and federal agency personnel, field visits to each community, and the fire specialist’s professional judgment based on experience with wildland fire ignitions in Nevada. Table 1-1 lists the communities and identifies the risks and hazard assessment results for each community.
Existing Bureau of Land Management fuel hazard data for the wildland-urban interface was evaluated and field-verified by the RCI Project Team Wildfire Specialists and Natural Resource Specialists. The interface fuel hazard condition was determined to be low, moderate, high, or extreme based on slope, aspect, vegetation composition, and vegetation structure.
|Community||Interface Condition||Interface Fuel Hazard||Ignition Risk||Hazard Rating|
|High and Extreme Hazard Communities|
|Cherry Creek||Intermix||Low to Extreme||High||High|
|Moderate Hazard Communities|
|Baker||Classic/Intermix||Low to Extreme||High||Moderate|
|Blue Diamond||Intermix||Low to Extreme||High||Moderate|
|Cold Creek||Classic Interface||Moderate to Extreme||Moderate||Moderate|
|Ely||Classic/Intermix||Low to Extreme||High||Moderate|
|Goshute||Intermix||Low to Moderate||Moderate||Moderate|
|Lackawanna||Intermix||Low to Extreme||Moderate||Moderate|
|Lund||Classic Interface||Low to Moderate||Low||Moderate|
|McGill||Classic Interface||Moderate to High||Moderate||Moderate|
|Pleasant Valley||Intermix||Low to Extreme||High||Moderate|
|Preston||Classic Interface||Low to High||Low||Moderate|
|Ruth||Classic Interface||Low to Extreme||Moderate||Moderate|
|Great Basin National Park||Rural||Low to Extreme||High||N/A|
|Shoshone||Rural||Low to Extreme||Moderate||N/A|
|Strawberry||Rural||Low to Extreme||Moderate||N/A|
The communities of Blue Diamond (also referred to as Ward Mountain), Ely, McGill and Ruth were included in a wildfire risk/hazard assessment conducted by Resource Concepts, Inc. in June 2003. Those communities were not included in the overall county assessment in August 2004. Rather, information from the previous report is included in this document. Previously proposed recommendations were reviewed, especially those implemented since the 2003 report was prepared. Recommended fuel treatments were updated as appropriate.
There is a high potential for a catastrophic fire event in the wildland-urban interface area of Cherry Creek. The elevated hazard rating is attributed to inadequate defensible space, limited water supply for fire suppression drafting sources, and limited firefighting capabilities, potential fire behavior related to topography and high and extreme hazard fuels. These circumstances also potentially increase the danger to firefighters.
Moderate potential for a catastrophic fire event in the wildland-urban interface exists for the communities of Baker, Blue Diamond, Cold Creek, Ely, Goshute, Lackawanna, Lund, McGill, Pleasant Valley, Preston, and Ruth. Either low or moderate hazard vegetation or adequate implementation of defensible space has partially mitigated the hazards in these communities.
Shoshone and Strawberry are addressed as rural ranch communities. Rural ranch areas typically consist of widely scattered residences surrounded by agricultural lands that act as a buffer between the residences and any wildland fuels. The primary concern for this type of community is damage to equipment or stockpiled commodities due to wildfire. When the Fire and Resource Specialists on the RCI Project Team visited a rural ranch community, they assessed vegetation, potential fire behavior, and related hazards and developed recommendations specific to the ranch area. Although elements such as community design, construction materials, and defensible space were noted in the rural ranch communities, they were not primary factors in determining overall hazard ratings.
Great Basin National Park was addressed as a rural recreation community. Rural recreation communities are areas where developed recreation facilities exist in remote locations. The primary concern for this type of community is damage to the recreation facilities and the ecological integrity of the area. Reductions in visitor days would likely occur after one or more large wildland fires in this recreation community.
Volunteer fire departments provide primary fire suppression resources in White Pine County. These departments are organized into the White Pine County Fire Protection District under the Nevada Division of Forestry, as authorized by NRS 473, Fire Protection Districts Receiving Federal Aid. Wildfire suppression resources are available to all White Pine County communities from the Nevada Division of Forestry Ely Conservation Camp, the Bureau of Land Management Ely Field Office, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Ely Ranger District, and the Great Basin National Park Fire Department.
Recommendations in this report primarily focus on efforts that homeowners can initiate and implement to enhance the fire safe nature of their communities. Recommendations for creating defensible space were uniformly given to homeowners in each community who have not yet reduced fuels on their private property. Defensible space is the homeowner’s responsibility, and it is an essential first line of defense for saving lives and property during a catastrophic wildland fire.
Fuelbreaks and fuel reduction treatments to be implemented cooperatively by public land agencies, White Pine County, and property owners have been recommended in Baker, Blue Diamond (Ward Mountain), Cherry Creek, Ely, Goshute, and Ruth. In some areas, street and address signage needs improvement so that firefighters can easily locate homes that are at risk in low visibility conditions caused by a fire.
The communities of Baker, Blue Diamond (Ward Mountain), Ely, Goshute, and Ruth are encouraged to form local chapters of the Nevada Fire Safe Council. The Council facilitates solutions that reduce the potential loss of lives and property due to wildfire. Local Fire Safe Council Chapters become part of a large network that shares information and receives notification of programs and funding opportunities. More information on forming a Nevada Fire Safe Council chapter can be obtained by contacting:
Nevada Fire Safe Council
PO Box 2724
Carson City, NV 89702
A high priority for future planning is the adoption and enforcement of regulations that address community fire safety in the wildland-urban interface and include mandatory fuel reduction treatments and annual maintenance for all new development. The County must assure that fire safe community recommendations, such as those listed in Appendix F, are adopted in White Pine County, especially for the town of Ely and the Blue Diamond (Ward Mountain) area.
There is no way to completely eliminate the threat of wildfire in the wildland-urban interface. Close and continued coordination between citizens, local fire departments, White Pine County, the Nevada Division of Forestry, the US Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs is crucial for successful implementation of necessary fuel reduction projects to improve fire safety in the wildland-urban interface communities throughout White Pine County. Recommendations in this report are intended 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