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UNCE specialist featured in Heartland series

Posted 9/25/2012

Smith discusses how sheep eat flammable weeds in Carson

University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Natural Resource Specialist Ed Smith is featured in a new segment of the America’s Heartland series appearing on KVIE, a public television station in Sacramento.

The segment focuses on how in the aftermath of the 2004 Waterfall Fire Carson City uses a flock of sheep to reduce flammable cheatgrass and other fuels on the hills surrounding the community. Cheatgrass played a role in fueling and quickly spreading the blaze that destroyed more than 20 structures and scorched 8,700 acres.

Carson City’s sheep project is an outgrowth of a 1999 UNCE demonstration project conducted by Smith and UNCE agronomist, Jay Davison. After the Waterfall Fire, Carson City decided to put the results of their project to work.

Smith, the coordinator of Cooperative Extension’s Living With Fire program, discusses on the show how sheep can reduce the amount of cheat grass available to fuel wildfires. Sheep readily consume cheatgrass in the spring when the grass is young and the seeds are still soft, Smith says.

Living With Fire is an interagency effort initiated, coordinated and implemented by Cooperative Extension. It teaches Nevadans how to live more safely in high fire-hazard environments. The program stresses that the key to reducing the wildfire threat to homes and communities is implementing pre-fire activities such as replacing wood roofs, screening vents and managing vegetation.

To promote widespread adoption of pre-fire activities in Nevada’s high fire-hazard communities, a partnership was formed between UNCE and Nevada’s local, state and federal firefighting and emergency organizations. Partners meet routinely to plan events and provide input into projects.

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