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Living With Fire Tip #7: Watch for cheatgrass; it is just waiting to burn

Posted 6/25/2007

Cheatgrass doesn't look like much, but it poses a major threat to our environment and public safety in Nevada.

"Cheatgrass usually dries out early in the spring, and can serve as good kindling for wildfires," explains Ed Smith, natural resource specialist, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. "If you look around, you will see hills covered with pale yellow, dry cheatgrass that could easily burn if ignited."

Smith says that dry cheatgrass is one of the easiest plants to ignite, and that cheatgrass fires have been started by catalytic converters on cars, cigarette butts, welding activities, lawn mowers, bottle rockets and ricocheting bullets. If you're working or playing where there's cheatgrass:

  • Always have water and a shovel nearby to help put out a spark or small fire if one starts.
  • Do not park your car over dry cheatgrass.
  • Properly dispose of cigarettes and matches.
  • Do not play with sparklers, bottle rockets or fireworks.
  • Do not start a campfire.
  • Remove cheatgrass from the area extending at least 30 feet from your home, shed or other buildings.

"Cheatgrass is not native to this area, but is now widespread throughout Nevada," Smith says. "It is taking over Nevada's rangelands, and everywhere it invades becomes more susceptible to wildfire."

To learn more about protecting your home from the threat of wildfire, visit Living With Fire online or contact Ed Smith at University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, 775-782-9960.

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