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Nevada Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Summit 2008

Posted 9/5/2008

by Robert Mills

Reducing the Wildfire Threat to Nevada Communities

Fire-service personnel, elected officials, county managers and concerned homeowners throughout Nevada will gather in Reno to discuss ways to reduce the wildfire threat Thursday, September 18 and Friday, September 19.

The Nevada Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Summit will take place at the Joe Crowley Student Union on the University of Nevada, Reno campus at 1664 North Virginia Street.

The second-annual summit will include members from Nevada communities which have been rated high or extreme wildfire dangers. Sixty-eight Nevada communities in 16 counties have an extreme or high wildfire-danger rating based on completed community wildland fire protection plans.

Ed Smith, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension natural resource specialist, said it’s often up to homeowners to manage their land and home in order to prevent wildfire devastation.

"We hope to communicate the importance of homeowner responsibility," Smith said. "Too often it’s the homeowner’s belief that fire protection is someone else’s problem to fix when in reality there are many things the homeowner is responsible for. It will take a community effort of homeowners, firefighting agencies and others to lower our wildfire-danger ratings."

Firefighters, citizens, homes and acres of land are placed in danger of wildfires every year. In most cases, wildfires can be deterred or even prevented with proper land management practices like construction of defensible perimeters, controlled vegetation and cleared-access zones for firefighters.

Sonya Sistare, of the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, hopes attendees will leave the summit with the knowledge to take on specific fire hazards threatening their homes and communities.

"The goal is for attendees to leave with an action plan," Sistare said.

Along with wildfire hazard reduction education, attendees are invited to learn about the roles of federal, state and local agencies within their high or extreme fire-danger communities. Attendees will also discuss potential funding opportunities and meet in small groups to discuss solutions to wildfire-risk factors specific to their communities.

"Participants will be able to interact in small groups with experts in different fire-danger factors like construction material, community design and fire behavior," Sistare said.

Though the event is geared towards high and extreme-risk communities, citizens from lower-fire-danger communities are welcome to attend. In 2007, 11 of Nevada’s 17 counties were represented with members from 32 of the 68 high to extreme-risk communities in attendance. Attendees who visited the summit last year will return to share accomplishment reports with new participants.

Agencies sponsoring the Nevada Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Summit 2008 include: University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, Bureau of Land Management, Nevada Association of Counties, Nevada Division of Emergency Management, Nevada Division of Forestry, Nevada Fire Safe Council, Sierra Front Wildfire Cooperators, Washoe County, Elko County and USDA Forest Service.

For more information or to register to attend the 2008 Nevada Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Summit, please contact Ed Smith at 775-782-9960 or Sonya Sistare at 775-856-8403.

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