Group Gets $1.2 Million to Assess Widlfire Threat

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A statewide group has received $1.2 million in federal funds to assess the wildfire threat in communities across Nevada.

The Nevada Fire Safe Council assessment will not only pinpoint Nevada's most threatened areas, but allow the state to qualify for future grants to help protect the communities.

In all, the council will examine 261 at-risk communities across the state.

"In light of the recent San Diego fires, we really wanted to let Nevadans know what collaborative efforts are taking place to help prevent such disasters in our state," said Elwood Miller, council executive coordinator.

Miller said many Nevadans already are taking steps to make their communities safer from the threat of wildfire.

"We have 18 fire safe councils across the state, with more forming all the time," he said.

The latest project, along with other steps being taken to protect Nevada property from wildfire, will be the focus of a Dec. 9 gathering at the State Capitol in Carson City.

Gov. Kenny Guinn, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and former Sen. Richard Bryan, D-Nev., will discuss the state's wildfire prevention efforts then.

Wildfires caused little damage in Nevada for a second straight year, but blackened about 3 million acres of rangeland across the state from 1999 to 2001.

The blazes charred just over 16,000 acres this year, down from about 90,000 acres last year.

Citing Southern California's devastating blazes as a lesson, fire officials particularly want to step up efforts to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire at Lake Tahoe.

A diverse coalition of ranchers, conservationists and sportsmen also is calling for attention to rural Nevada, where it says an overgrowth of pinion and juniper trees poses a wildfire risk to many small communities.