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Learn how to create wind breaks

by Christy Chalmers

About five years ago, Gail Durham planted a windshield in her yard.

Now she’s got unique birds and a small, multicolored forest to enjoy from her porch, which is sheltered nicely from any shrieking zephyrs.

“It makes all the difference,” said Durham, pointing to the picture windows that face south in her East Valley home. “When the wind would blow, we used to just look at those and hope they weren’t going to fall in. Now we don’t notice it.”

Durham, a staff specialist for the Nevada Division of Forestry, is hoping other Carson Valley residents will take a two-day course on how to design and plant effective wind breaks and buffer zones.

The course is being offered by the Carson Valley Conservation District, Western Nevada Conservation, Resource and Development and the Nevada Division of Forestry Sept. 7-8.

“The objective is to try to get (participants) to see how to do the wind breaks,” said Durham. “They’ll have a pretty good idea of what to look for and how they function.”

Durham uses her home wind break as an example. She says it uses a “windshield effect,” with shorter sumac plants at the front backed by taller Russian olive, black locust and some evergreen trees.

The trees, a mix of deciduous and evergreens, are intended to shield winds from the southwest. Homeowners must consider factors unique to their homes, such as angles, soil types and what they want to accomplish. Wind breaks can be used to shield crops, livestock or houses, and different species of trees can help in different situations. They also provide habitat for birds and wildlife.

“It’s getting the right species to fit your site. That’s critical,” said Durham.

Planting large trees too close to a house can mean physical damage to the house in a wind storm. Some wind-whipped trees create their own chaotic air currents, leading to turbulence instead of calm.

The first day of the workshop will explore those factors and others. The second will focus on the riparian management aspects, with specialists who will focus on everything from riparian forest buffers to the cost sharing, technical and labor assistance programs that are available for both riparian and wind break systems.

Field trips are also planned so participants can see examples of successful and failed wind breaks and riparian zones.

The workshop will be the first formally offered by the Nevada Division of Forestry. Participation is limited to 35 people and the $10 registration fee must be submitted by Aug. 17.

What: Windbreak and Riparian Buffer Technology workshop

When: Sept. 7-8, Western Nevada Community College Douglas Center.

Cost: $10, due by Aug. 17

Details: Pam Jenkins, 782-3661