Plant-thinning credited with deterring fires

RENO — Unlike its bigger neighbor to the west, Nevada has been lucky this wildfire season, with only 21,227 acres blackened so far.

By contrast, nearly 1.2 million acres, or more than 1,800 square miles, have burned during a record fire season this year in California.

Last year, more than 900,000 acres, or 1,400 square miles, burned in Nevada.

While the wildfire threat remains high in Nevada, some experts are crediting brush- and tree-thinning projects with deterring dangerous fires.

A swath of brush thinned last year in Washoe Valley south of Reno prevented a July 29 barn blaze from becoming a major wildfire, said Tim Roide, a fire fuels specialist with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

The clearing of the 4-mile-long, 150-foot-wide section of sagebrush and bitterbrush helped prevent the fire from spreading onto BLM land. The $21,000 project was done to protect homes in New Washoe City.

“There’s no question about it,” Roide told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “It prevented a sizable fire.”

A fire that charred more than 475 acres in rural Lyon County in May burned into a treated area in Mill Canyon.

“That just really slowed down the spread of that fire,” Roide said.

Similar work helped prevent last summer’s fire that destroyed 254 homes on Lake Tahoe’s south shore from becoming much worse, experts said. After moving out of an overgrown Angora Creek drainage, the fire entered thinned forested areas, a government report said.

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