RCI ReportsDouglas County Fire Plan

26.0 Conclusions

The RCI Project Team developed the recommendations in this report for Douglas County based on site-specific conditions observed during the wildfire risk/hazard assessments and from information provided by local fire departments and agencies. Moderate to extreme fuel hazard conditions occur throughout much of the county. Hazardous fuels in conjunction with steep topography and typical lightning patterns during the fire season create a fire prone environment. The community hazard ratings for the communities in Douglas County ranged from low to extreme.

Low hazard ratings for East Valley, Gardnerville, Gardnerville Ranchos, and Minden reflect the benefit of being surrounded by agricultural lands that are inherently low fuel hazard areas and function as greenstrips around these communities. Moderate to extreme fuel hazards surround most of the communities with moderate community hazard ratings (Alpine View, Dresslerville, Jacks Valley/Indian Hills, Johnson Lane, Ruhenstroth, and Topaz Lake). However larger lot sizes, good access, and implementation of defensible space around residences in these communities are compensating factors for the fuel hazard condition. Continued maintenance of defensible space through removal of debris and excess vegetation in accordance with the defensible space guidelines in Appendix D will continue to improve fire safety for these Douglas County residents.

China Springs, Genoa, Fish Springs, Holbrook Junction, Job’s Peak Ranch, North Foothill Road Corridor, Pine Nut Creek, Sheridan Acres, Spring Valley/Double Springs, and Topaz Ranch Estates have high community hazard ratings. The predominant factors that increase the wildfire hazard are specific to each community and include such things as the distance from a career fire department, the distance from water sources for fire suppression, the presence of high and extreme fuel hazards, and the lack of adequate defensible space around homes and structures in some areas of the communities. Weather patterns and steep topography are other contributing factors that increase community hazard ratings but cannot be modified to improve community safety. The communities that are located at the base of the Carson Range must pay particular attention to minimizing hazards around residences by implementing and maintaining adequate defensible space and supporting local volunteer fire departments.

Wildfire suppression resources and availability are generally appropriate for the potential risks/hazards in Douglas County. The East Fork Fire and Paramedic Districts, Nevada Division of Forestry Sierra Forest Fire Protection District, the Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service and other cooperators as part of the Sierra Front Wildfire Cooperators have been successful in minimizing wildfires through rapid response to both human and lightning caused ignitions. However, if the worst-case scenario for the communities along the east slope of the Carson Range were to occur, fire suppression resources would have difficulty in containing the fire. The recent Waterfall Fire in Carson City is a tragic but real demonstration of the potential worse case scenario in Douglas County.

Adoption of a Douglas County wildland interface ordinance requiring defensible space treatments on both developed and undeveloped land is essential countywide to decrease the likelihood of losing homes if the worst-case scenario should occur.

The recommendations presented for each community in this report are summarized in Table 26-1. Continued implementation of the fuel reduction projects that have been planned by various agencies and professionals will increase protection to homes and mitigate the fuel hazards present in many residential areas of Douglas County. However, this can only be considered a starting point for addressing community wildfire safety. Long-term community safety from wildfire requires a permanent commitment to the enforcement of fire safe ordinances at the local level and dedicated attention to fuels management. Regular monitoring for fuel conditions and periodic updates to this report should include new recommendations for maintenance or implementation of additional treatments as development continues to encroach the wildland-urban interface.

Table 26-1. Community Proposed Fuel Reduction/Mitigation Projects and Landowners and/or Agencies Involved
Community Project Description and
Estimated Acreage
Status Private USFS BLM NVST Washoe Tribe
Alpine View Fuelbreaks - 9 ac. Proposed X X      
Bodie Flats Shaded Fuelbreak - 23 ac. Proposed X   X   X
China Springs Fuelbreak - 2 ac. Proposed       X  
Dresslerville Fuelbreak - 60 ac. Proposed         X
Gardnerville Ranchos Fuelbreaks - 24 ac. Proposed X        
Genoa Shaded fuelbreak - 185 ac. Proposed X X      
Holbrook Junction Fuelbreaks - 18 ac.,
Fuel Reduction Treatment - 150 ac.
Proposed X       X
Jacks Valley/ Indian Hills Fuelbreak - 12-24 ac.
Fuel Reduction Treatment - 340 ac.
Job’s Peak Ranch Fuelbreaks - 197 ac.,
Fuel Reduction Treatments - >50 ac.
Proposed X X      
North Foothill Road Corridor Shaded Fuelbreak - 48 ac. Proposed X X      
Pine Nut Creek Fuel Reduction Treatment - 210 ac.
Fuelbreak - 60 ac.
X   X    
Ruhenstroth Shaded Fuelbreak - 20 ac. Proposed X   X    
Sheridan Acres Shaded Fuelbreak - 74 ac. Proposed X X X    
Spring Valley/ Double Springs Shaded Fuelbreaks - 77 ac. Planned/ Scheduled X        
Topaz Ranch Estates Shaded Fuelbreak - 23 ac. Proposed X        

There is no way to completely eliminate the threat that wildfires present to communities at the wildland-urban interface. However, the recommendations in this report are intended to increase public responsibility and encourage concerned community members to be proactive in reducing the risk of wildfire ignitions near their communities. Creating and maintaining defensible space on private property and increasing public awareness of the risks and potential for damage or loss of lives and property associated with living in a fire prone environment are best accomplished at the local level.

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-urban interface areas.