Waterfall fire timber salvage to start as soon as Friday

Loggers will start salvaging what they can from city-owned land ravaged by last summer's Waterfall fire as soon as Friday, a Carson City official said.

As much as 50 percent of the timber on the city's land from Ash Canyon to the Lakeview area will be taken, said Carson City Open Space Supervisor Juan Guzman.

City officials are pushing to begin the salvage operation as soon as possible, before the dead trees start decaying and the estimated 1.5 million board feet they will produce loses its commercial value.

Removing the dead trees will reduce the risk of another fire on the land this summer while also lessening the danger of weakened trees plummeting to the ground and possibly injuring people or city infrastructure, Guzman said. It will also help remove the blight from the hills, he added.

"One of the responsibilities of the (city's) open space division is to protect the beauty of our scenic hills," Guzman said.

Sierra Pacific Industries has been contracted to do the logging and is now waiting on an approval of the salvage plan from the state, which is expected soon.

The city is also working on an agreement with private land owners to salvage fire-damaged timber on their property.

About a week after loggers start cutting up prone and still-standing trees, helicopters and trucks will begin hauling away the timber.

Most of the transport will be done by helicopter, Guzman said, but an estimated 25 trucks per day will still rumble down city streets for six to eight weeks.

The hauling will begin at 5 a.m. and continue until sundown.

After coming out of Ash Canyon, the truck traffic will be directed down Hobart Road, College Parkway and Winnie Lane. Any helicopter activity will be done far away from homes Guzman said.

Residents on Winnie Lane and Hobart Road reached Wednesday were generally unfazed by the idea of trucks rumbling through their respective neighborhoods for up to two months.

"We get quite a bit of traffic already because of the college," said College Parkway resident Erwin Schnauhuber.

The U.S. Forest Service is planning a similar timber salvage, but because of the extra red tape a federal agency must cut through, it won't begin until early this summer.

Forest Service Community Affairs Officer Franklin Pemberton said the extra time will better allow the agency to see which trees will live and which ones will die.

On 1,500 acres where the Forest Service is considering logging operations, Pemberton said the three largest trees on every acre, dead or alive, will be left standing and 450 acres will be set aside and left untouched. Of the remaining timber an estimated 70 percent will be removed, producing anywhere from 2 million to 5 million board feet.

"Our goal here is to heal this wound," Pemberton said, "get the scab off and treat the land."

The Forest Service will replant trees in the spring of 2006 and again in 2007 and 2008.

n Contact reporter Cory McConnell at cmcconnell@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.

Waterfall fire facts

The Waterfall fire began in the early

morning hours of July 14 and burned

uncontrolled for six days. It destroyed 18 homes, one commercial building and 25 outbuildings, as well as

scarring nearly 8,800 acres of forest and rangeland in west Carson City.


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