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Living With Fire Tip #19: Give Me a Break!

Posted 8/19/2008

Throughout Nevada, a variety of government agencies are proposing to manage the high fire hazard vegetation surrounding our communities. Homeowners living in these areas are likely to encounter some unfamiliar terms. Defined below are some vegetation management terms homeowners might hear.

  • Firebreak: A strip of land where there is no vegetation that is effective in preventing the spread of wildfire. Firebreaks can be manmade, such as a strip of bare soil. Or, they can be naturally occurring features, such as rock outcrops or rivers.
  • Fuelbreak: A strip of land where the most flammable vegetation has been removed and less hazardous vegetation is retained. For example, tall shrubs and trees are removed, but native grasses and wildflowers are left in place.
  • Shaded Fuelbreak: A type of fuelbreak in forested areas where the trees have been thinned out, ladder fuels (see below) have been removed, and the understory vegetation has been managed to reduce the wildfire threat.
  • Ladder Fuels: Vegetation that would allow a fire to ignite taller vegetation, such as low-lying tree branches.
  • Greenstrip: An area where fire-resistant vegetation has been planted to reduce the wildfire threat. Crested wheatgrass and "Immigrant" forage kochia are often planted in Nevada greenstrips.

Properly managing the vegetation surrounding your community is an important component to wildfire threat reduction. Make sure you are familiar with what is being proposed.

To learn more about protecting your home from the threat of wildfire, visit or contact Ed Smith, natural resources specialist, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, (775) 782-9960 or Living With Fire is an interagency program coordinated by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.

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