Learn to reduce wildfire threat by removing fuels from around the home

The recent Nevada Wildland-Urban Interface Summit brought homeowners, agencies, government and Nevada Fire Safe Council members together to plan how to make areas safer in the face of wildfires. Homeowners are the most important people when it comes to protecting homes from wildfires. It is the actions a homeowner takes prior to a fire that reduce the threat to a home when a wildfire occurs.

Cooler weather is perfect for yard work and eliminating fire-hazardous plants, such as juniper, sagebrush, rabbitbrush and others from the landscape. According to Ruta Glinski, fire mitigation and education specialist, for the Bureau of Land Management, since fire season never ends, people should never let their guard down when it comes to reducing fuels, not even in the winter.

So, I just spent two days removing two 40-year-old junipers. What a tedious, prickly job! I first had to hack off 5 to 6 feet of outside branches to expose the trunks. Then my husband took the chain saw to them.

My yard cart is 4 feet long, 3 feet wide and 2 feet deep. Before I ever got to the trunks, I cut out 10 full carts of green and dried limbs. While I was working under these huge plants, I saw how much dead material was inside, even though they looked green on the outside. It's pretty scary that many people have these "gas can" plants, with all that flammable vegetative waste under them, within 30 feet to 100 feet of their houses.

If you want your property to be more fire-resistant, do not plant junipers in this zone. If you have them, remove them and replace them with less fire-prone plants.

A friend asked me, "But, what do you do with all the biomass after a big pruning?"

We will haul most of it to the landfill, because we live in Washoe County.

Residents of Carson City, however, have a better option. Carson City Fire Chief Stacey Giomi wrote grants to buy four Dumpsters and four trailers for Carson City residents to use for fuels removal. These are delivered free to your home. You fill them up with pruned vegetation, and then drivers come and haul them away. Easy! All you have to do is call 887-2210 to ask for a delivery. Right now, there isn't even a waiting list. Tom Tarulli, Carson City fire marshall/assistant chief, says the pickup program will continue to operate "until there is ice on the ground."

For more information on making your home safer from the threat of wildfire, go to www.livingwithfire.info, or contact me, 887-2252 or skellyj@unce.unr.edu, or your local University of Nevada Cooperative Extension office.

Check out many useful horticulture publications at www.unce.unr.edu. "Ask a Master Gardener" by e-mailing mastergardeners@unce.unr.edu.

-- JoAnne Skelly is the Carson City/Storey County Extension Educator for University of

Nevada Cooperative Extension.


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