What are Fire Adapted Communities?

Fire Adapted Communities are neighborhoods located in a fire-prone area that require little assistance from firefighters during a wildfire. Residents of Fire Adapted Communities accept responsibility for living in a high fire-hazard area. They also possess the knowledge and skills to prepare their homes and property to survive wildfire and they know how to evacuate early, safely and effectively.

Focus of the Webinar Series

University of California Cooperative Extension and University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, in collaboration with Lake Tahoe Basin fire agencies, will conduct a series of webinars on topics that will provide residents the knowledge and skills to create Fire Adapted Communities in the Lake Tahoe Basin. This webinar series will be held in conjunction with Lake Tahoe Basin Wildfire Awareness Week, which runs May 26 to June 3.

The goal of the webinar series is to empower residents to take responsibility for reducing the wildfire risk to their own homes, families and communities. The experts presenting in this webinar series will:

  • Provide a broad overview of the wildfire risk-reduction strategies used in the Lake Tahoe Basin
  • Explain the principles of effective defensible space and conservation landscaping in the Lake Tahoe Basin
  • Describe methods that can be used to reduce the ignitability of homes in fire-hazard areas, specifically in the Lake Tahoe Basin
  • Discuss how Lake Tahoe Basin residents can work with their fire departments, neighborhoods and communities to reduce the wildfire threat
  • Educate on how to prepare for emergencies and how to evacuate when a wildfire threatens
  • Outline the fire risk reduction activities being conducted in wildlands by the US Forest Service

Who Should Attend?

This webinar series offers an education on a variety of important topics for homeowners and residents of the Lake Tahoe Basin, visitors, land managers, local decision makers and planners, regulators, and members of the firefighting community. 

Webinar Schedule

The following six webinars will be offered during Lake Tahoe Basin Wildfire Awareness Week. All sessions will be held from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. and will be recorded and archived for later viewing.

Session One: Defensible space in the Lake Tahoe Basin – Friday, May 25

  • How to create defensible space and why it’s important – Ed Smith, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension
  • How to integrate defensible space with Best Management Practices – Mike Vollmer, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency
  • How to receive a free consultation on installing Best Management Practices on your property – Courtney Walker, Tahoe Resource Conservation District

Session Two: Preparing for emergencies and evacuating during a wildfire – Tuesday, May 29

  • Following the Preparing Residents in Disaster Evacuations (PRIDE) program recommendations to prepare for emergencies and safely and effectively evacuating during a wildfire – Mark Regan, North Lake Tahoe FPD
  • Information needs and emergency notification methods – Dave Zaski, North Tahoe FPD

Session Three: Conservation landscaping in the Lake Tahoe Basin – Wednesday, May 30

  • Defensible space landscaping – Susie Kocher, University of California Cooperative Extension
  • Backyard native plants – Lesley Higgins, Nevada Tahoe Conservation District
  • How to garden in the Lake Tahoe Basin – Wendy West, Tahoe Basin Master Gardener program

Session Four: Improving home survivability during wildfire – Thursday, May 31

  • How homes are vulnerable to wildfire – Steve Quarles, Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety
  • Implementing Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) building codes in the Lake Tahoe Basin – Gareth Harris, Lake Valley FPD

Session Five: US Forest Service’s role in wildfire risk reduction – Friday, June 1

  • Fire prevention in the Lake Tahoe Basin – Beth Brady, US Forest Service
  • South Shore fuels treatment projects and the stewardship permit system – Kyle Jacobsen, US Forest Service

Session Six: Working with your fire department and community – Tuesday, June 5

  • Fire department services, permits, calls from insurance companies and more – Eric Guevin, Tahoe Douglas FPD and Martin Goldberg, Lake Valley FPD
  • Motivating neighbors to create defensible space – Ann Grant, Nevada Fire Safe Council

Webinar Logistics

University of California Cooperative Extension will host the webinars. The webinars are free to attend, but participants are required to register. Click here to register. Participants will be provided a URL to access the presentations and will be able to engage presenters and other attendees by asking questions and commenting on the materials.

For more information contact Susie Kocher, University of California Cooperative Extension, at sdkocher@ucdavis.edu or (530) 542-2571 or check the webinar homepage.

For a full list of Lake Tahoe Wildfire Awareness Week activities click here.



Are you prepared for an emergency evacuation?

This Wildfire Awareness Week, local services representatives are holding a informative workshop at Galena High School to help residents prepare in the event they have to evacuate due to wildfire or other emergencies. In addition to hearing presentations from experts, you’ll have the opportunity to talk one-on-one with those in charge of emergency evacuations.

When: Tuesday, May 1 from 6pm to 8pm

Where: Galena High School

Topics include:

• How evacuation orders are determined
• Emergency notification methods
• Animal evacuation
• Special needs of the elderly
• Citizen responsibility
• Preparing a to-go bag and disaster supply kit

Local services represented include:
• American Red Cross
• City of Reno Fire Department
• North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District
• Sierra Fire Protection District
• Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District
• Washoe County Office of Emergency Management
and Homeland Security
• Washoe County Regional Animal Services
• Washoe County School District
• Washoe County Sheriffs Office
• University of Nevada Cooperative Extension – Living With Fire Program

For more information, contact Wm. T. “Sandy” Munns, City of Reno Fire Department at 775-334-2328 or munnss@reno.gov
Learn more at LivingWithFire.info.


There are several events, activities and workshop taking place in western Nevada as part of Nevada Wildfire Awareness Week. Below is a list of events with links for additional information. We hope you can participate in one or more of these events as part of your wildfire preparedness efforts.

Hear presentations from local services providers and discuss your specific questions with experts.

Fun for the family and information too!  Children can visit the fire safety house, meet Smokey Bear and Sparky too, explore helicopters and fire engines and play games.  Adults will have an opportunity to meet local firefighters, visit with vendors, participate in a free raffle for great prizes, and hear a short presentation.

Remove the ornamental junipers from your property, especially the ones located within 30-feet of your home, and take them to one of 4 biomass collection sites (located in Red Rock, Spanish Springs, Virginia Foothills and Washoe Valley) for free disposal.  Only during the date and time mentioned, you will receive a coupon valid for one free #5 replacement plant from Moana Nursery. One per household while supplies last.

Carson City residents can bring their junked junipers to the Galaxy Theater-South Lot for free disposal during the date and time listed.  In exchange, you will receive a coupon from Greenhouse Garden Center valid for a 50% discount on up to 10 shrubs or perennials, limit one coupon per household.

Hear presentations on evacuation preparation and visit with local services representative to discuss your specific questions one-on-one.

In celebration of Nevada Wildfire Awareness Week, Reno Aces Baseball is offering a discount at its home game against the Las Vegas 51s.  Smokey Bear will throw out the first ball!  Discount ticket prices are:

       $5.00 general admission (regular price $6.00)

$10.00 outfield reserved seating (regular price $13.00)

Tickets must be purchased online for this discount, which will NOT be offered at the door. Click here to purchase tickets and use the special offer code: wildfire.

Douglas County residents can bring their ornamental junipers and other flammable vegetation to Bently Agrowdynamics for free disposal and recycling.  You will receive a coupon valid for 10% off of your entire nursery purchase at Lowe’s Home Improvement Store – Carson City location only.

Click here for a complete list of Nevada Wildfire Awareness Week events taking place across Nevada. If you need any publications, posters, information, or want the Living With Fire program to come and talk about wildfire preparedness in your community, give Sonya Sistare a call at 775-336-0271.


The Caughlin Fire quickly burned through southwest Reno’s Horseman’s Canyon destroying five homes and damaging another four. Just to the west of Horseman’s Canyon is Rosewood Canyon, which in terms of vegetation and density of homes, looks very similar to Horseman’s Canyon. Fortunately, for residents living adjacent to Rosewood Canyon, the Caughlin Fire passed them by. However, the threat of wildfire and the potential for loss of life and property has motivated Rosewood Canyon residents to take action  before the next wildfire starts.

The Caughlin Fire burned through Horseman's Canyon, skipping Rosewood Canyon immediately to the west.

This Thursday, April 26, an informational presentation will be held for everyone living near Rosewood Canyon to discuss the threat a wildfire in Rosewood Canyon would pose to neighboring families and homes and how to best address that threat. Please see the flyer below for more details about the event.

The National Interagency Fire Center Predictive Services (NIFC) just released its national wildland fire outlook for April through July and the potential for wildfire in western Nevada is a little concerning.

The NIFC takes a look at three primary factors when compiling its forecast:

1. La Niña/El Niño conditions

2. Drought

3. Fuel Dryness

In terms of drought, almost all of Nevada is expected to see drought persisting or intensifying over the next few months. The image below maps this forecast and shows the problem is widespread across the southwestern states.

What does this mean for wildfire in Nevada? According to NIFC, while there are typically no significant fires during April or May, parts of the Western Great Basin have potential for large fire under windy conditions. Our state has been very dry this winter and the dryness of the fine fuels, like cheatgrass, can rapidly carry fire if an ignition occurs. Toward the close of May the Western Great Basin starts seeing small fires, with fire season reaching full swing in June.

The maps below depict areas with the potential for significant wildfire events. The first map reflects the potential for significant wildfire in April with areas of Washoe County, Douglas County, Storey County, Carson City and Lyon County facing an above normal fire threat. As we move into May the potential for a significant wildfire threatens a much larger swath of Nevada.

This winter the Washoe Drive and Caughlin fires made it readily apparent that wildfires are a year-round threat in our area. Given our wildfire history and the NIFC predictions, we recommend residents begin taking proactive steps to improve the chances their homes, families and property will survive a wildfire. Give the Living With Fire program a call at 775-784-4848 and we’ll mail you a free copy of our publication on Fire Adapted Communities which offers recommendations for things like implementing effective defensible space, ignition-resistant building construction and evacuation planning – all of which increase the likelihood your home and family can survive a wildfire without firefighter assistance. You can also join us at any of the Nevada Wildfire Awareness Week events taking place across the state, beginning April 28th with a kick-off event in Carson City. It’s a time to increase your understanding of the risks and responsibilities of living in wildfire-prone areas.

To view the complete NIFC report on the National Wildland Significant Fire Potential Outlook for April through July, click here.


Community Biomass Collection Sites are open and ready for collection of vegetative waste from residents throughout the Truckee Meadows this spring. Sponsored by the Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District and Washoe County the four collection sites will allow residents to thin live vegetation and remove dead and dying fuels from around their properties and then dispose of the combustible vegetation at the community sites. Creating defensible space decreases the threat to your property in the event of a wildfire.

Homeowners with a trailer-load of vegetation to be dumped at the Junk the Junipers event in Carson City last year.

When: April 1 through June 30, 2012


North Valleys

Silver Lake Volunteer Fire Station

11525 Red Rock Road


Spanish Springs

470 Rockwell Blvd


Virginia Foothills

East end of Kenneth Drive


Washoe Valley

Truckee Meadows Fire Station #16

1240 Eastlake Blvd


The intent of this project is to encourage homeowners to create defensible space, reduce hazardous fuels and promote the creation of Fire Adapted Communities. To support homeowner’s efforts throughout Northern Nevada, Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District and Washoe County are continuing the past year’s practice of establishing sites where residents can bring the results of their clean-up efforts. The creation of defensible space increases the chances of your property surviving a wildland fire and gives firefighters an extra advantage of protecting your home and those of your neighbors. For additional information on wildfire preparedness, please visit www.livingwithfire.info.

Accepted items for collection include:

  • Trees, tree branches, all brush, weeds, dead Trees, tree bark, old firewood

Items that will NOT be accepted include:

  • Sod, lawn clippings, manure, hay, dimensional lumber, commercial waste, trash, or rocks

Please contact Nancy Leuenhagen, Washoe County’s Community Relations Manager, at 775-328-6169 with any questions.



In 2004 and 2005, 250 Nevada communities located in the wildland-urban interface (WUI), were assessed in terms of their wildfire risk and hazard. All the fire hazard assessments are available at LivingWithFire.info.

Specifically, the reports:

  • Assessed wildfire hazards present in each community.
  • Identified firefighting equipment and infrastructure needs.
  • Presented maps of fuel hazards in high and extreme fuel-hazard communities.
  • Described proposed risk and hazard mitigation projects in enough detail to aid communities in applying for implementation funds.

Since those reports were written, we’ve had numerous fires threaten homes in Washoe County, including the most recent Caughlin and Washoe Drive fires. The devastation from these fires  made it readily apparent that wildfires are a year-round threat in our area. Since those reports were written, homeowners have done things to either worsen or improve their preparedness for wildfire, including positive changes like implementing defensible space, replacing wood shake roofs with noncombustible types and preparing evacuation plans for their families or potentially threatening changes like building unenclosed decks attached to the home or letting their defensible space go through poor maintenance. Given these recent tragedies and the predictions by our nation’s firefighting experts that Nevada wildfire seasons will become longer and wildfires more intense and more difficult to control, it’s time for Nevada communities to reevaluate their wildfire threats.

Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPP) are the mechanism for doing this. CWPPs are a vehicle for incorporating Fire Adapted Community recommendations into community design and maintenance and assisting communities in establishing priorities for protecting life, property and infrastructure from wildfire. Every step a neighborhood takes toward becoming a Fire Adapted Community increases its ability to survive a wildfire, even without firefighter assistance. The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension’s Living With Fire program and its partners in the federal, state and local firefighting agencies, along with the Nevada Fire Safe Council, county government and homeowners are developing materials to assist communities through the process of wildfire protection planning.

Representatives from University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, federal, state and local firefighting agencies, county government and homeowners meet to outline the CWPP planning guide.

The materials will include a planning guide that offers background information, examples, and recommendations to simplify the CWPP process and guide residents through identifying hazards, assessing their threat to the community and prioritizing action plans to mitigate those hazards. Additionally, we’re developing an electronic template into which a planning group can input data, narratives and upload photos to have a CWPP produced for them.

Any community in the WUI would benefit from wildfire protection planning not simply because it helps residents understand what wildfire threats exist and how to address them, but because the planning process allows communities to form relationships with the firefighters charged with its protection. It also increases communication among neighbors, which often leads to solutions to other shared concerns.

We understand that undertaking the CWPP process may appear daunting, but we’re here to help. We’d like to work with a few pilot communities and help bring together a planning group to test the effectiveness, usability and simplicity of these new tools. If you are interested in creating a CWPP for your community or would like more information on Fire Adapted Communities, visit LivingWithFire.info or contact Grant Nejedlo at 775-636-1233 or nejedlog@unce.unr.edu.

City of Reno
News Release
February 21, 2012
For Immediate Release
Contact: Michele Anderson, Public Information Officer at 775.785.5855

The City of Reno Public Works Department and the Nevada Land Conservancy continue to work on post-fire restoration in Manzanita Canyon following the Caughlin Fire.

Manzanita Canyon

Starting tomorrow, February 22 until April 1, 2012, Soil Tech will be installing 13,000 linear feet of sediment logs, 17 acres of hydromulching, and 650 feet of willow wattles within the canyon bottom. The Nevada Land Conservancy was awarded a Truckee River Fund grant for emergency restoration measures. Soil Tech was awarded the contract by the Nevada Land Conservancy.

Residents are encouraged to limit their use of the access road during restoration activities

In mid December, while working on plans for erosion control, the City of Reno Public Works Department designed and installed nine check dams in the bottom of Manzanita Canyon to stabilize sediments in the drainage, and prevent rain and storm water from washing them out in the most severely burned areas. These structures have effectively held the soils back from washing down the drainage way during the January and February storms.

Areas of Manzanita Canyon were badly burned during the Caughlin Fire.

In addition, Starbucks has partnered in the effort on post–fire restoration by providing coffee and a meeting place for impacted home owners of the Caughlin Fire to pick up native grass seed. Impacted home owners can obtain the seed on Saturday, February 25 at the Caughlin Ranch Starbucks from 8:30 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. or Sunday, February 26 at the Starbucks on the corner of Lakeside Drive and McCarran Boulevard. A one-sixth acre bag of grass seed will be handed out along with instructions for hand seeding. Address identification will be required to receive the seed. Interested fire victims may request seed before these dates, by calling the Nevada Land Conservancy (see numbers below).

Community members interested in volunteering and helping in restoring the canyon should call Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful at 851-5185.

In the upcoming weeks more organized restoration efforts will be announced.

For more information, please contact Lynda Nelson of Nevada Land Conservancy at 997-3982 or Tracy Visher at 742-0076.


Carson City Extension Educator JoAnne Skelly teaches residents affected by the Caughlin Fire about post-fire landscape care.

On November 18, 2011, a tree branch blew into a powerline igniting the Caughlin Fire in southwest Reno. Driven by winds gusting to 70 mph, the fire destroyed 26 homes and forced the evacuation of 10,000 residents. Two months later, the Washoe Drive fire occurred south of Reno destroying 29 homes. Cooperative Extension quickly responded to both events through the Living With Fire program.

As members of the Living With Fire team, Sonya Sistare and Grant Nejedlo sprang into action immediately upon receiving a local radio station’s text alert about the Caughlin Fire.  Sonya called the local network TV and radio stations to remind them of our evacuation instructions, conveniently placed in the information section of the Reno/Sparks AT &T Telephone Directory.  She also directed them to the LivingWithFire.info website for additional resources.  The Reno Gazette journal published the instructions the next day. Social media became another useful tool as she and Grant both began posting frequent comments on multiple Facebook pages including those of the local TV and radio stations, the Nevada Fire Safe Council and UNCE’s own Living With Fire Facebook page.  The evacuation instructions were also placed on the home page of the Living With Fire website, with easy access to a downloadable file.  Because of their actions, thousands of Reno homeowners had the benefit of knowing what they should wear, what they should take and how to leave their home.

Cooperative Extension’s Ed Smith organized the first public meeting for Caughlin Fire victims. The meeting provided a post-fire update by Washoe County and City of Reno officials and presentations from UNCE faculty concerning post-fire landscape care, what native plants will grow back, reseeding after wildfire and potential invasive weed issues. Approximately 130 individuals were present, including homeowners, elected officials and agency representatives.

A week after the Washoe Drive Fire, UNCE hosted a series of three evening presentations at Pleasant Valley Elementary School for people impacted by the fire. The first presentation was by the Nevada Division of Insurance and dealt with insurance coverage and filing a claim. The other presentations covered post-fire landscape care and preparing homes for embers during a wildfire. Approximately 200 people attended the three events.

Washoe County Manager Katy Simon stated afterwards, “Wow!  What a great job last night at the Caughlin Fire update!  I was so impressed and proud to watch the presentations last night!  You all showed the best of public service–who we are and what we stand for.  Your professional expertise, knowledge, planning ability, and execution were absolutely flawless and outstanding.  Thank you for all that you have done on this difficult project, and all that you continue to do, to provide exceptional public service to our community.”

For more information about fire adapted communities and reducing the wildfire threat, resources to help during an evacuation and advice on returning to a home and landscape following wildfire, go to our recently improved and updated website: LivingWithFire.info.


University of Nevada Cooperative Extension invites residents affected by the Washoe Drive Fire to informational sessions on January 26, 30 and 31 to discuss post-fire insurance questions, learn how to help their landscapes recover from a wildfire and steps that can be taken now to help protect homes from embers during the next wildfire.

The presentations will run from 6-7 p.m. at Pleasant Valley Elementary School located at 405 Surrey Drive.

  • Thursday, January 26: Rajat Jain and Marie Holt, Nevada Division of Insurance, will present “Insurance – Recover, Rebuild, Restore” and field questions. The Nevada Division of Insurance protects the rights of Nevada’s consumers and is available to help file an insurance claim or answer questions about insurance.
  • Monday, January 30: JoAnne Skelly, UNCE Extension Educator Carson City/Storey County, will provide tips for homeowners on post-fire landscape care. Skelly worked extensively with property owners and their landscapes after the Waterfall Fire and will share what she learned from that experience.
  • Tuesday, January 31: Ed Smith, UNCE Natural Resource Specialist, will present the video “Be Ember Prepared” and will answer questions from the audience. Windblown embers were a major factor in home losses in both the Caughlin and Washoe Drive Fires.  Additional information on how to “Be Ember Aware” is also available at www.livingwithfire.info.

The sessions are free and open to the public.  University of Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE) encourages persons with disabilities to participate in its programs and activities.  If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation or have questions about the physical access provided, please contact Sonya Sistare at 775-336-0271 or sistares@unce.unr.edu in advance of the event.  UNCE is an EEO/AA institution.