Wildfire Rehab

By: Auburn Hutton Email
By: Auburn Hutton Email

We'll use the Hawken Fire as an example since it's the most recent one. In that blaze, the burden for rehabilitation falls on three different entities, plus some small sections of privately-owned land.

The Hawken Fire started on private land in Caughlin Ranch, but as it spread across the hillside, it then took a course of its own.

"Whenever you have fire, fire of course doesn't acknowledge one jurisdiction or the other. It can quickly run from city and county limits and into the forest, and that's typically what happens with fires," said Christie Kalkowski with the US Forest Service.

Here is the acreage breakdown of Hawken: nearly 180 acres were on city land, 580 on county land and close to 2,000 acres on federal land. Christy Kalkowski from the U.S. Forestry Service explained that each agency is in charge of fronting the costs for rehabilitating the land they own. Once Hawken is 100% contained, a rehabilitation assessment team has just one week to devise a plan...and just one year to execute it.

"It's extremely serious here because we are talking about critical watershed. This is providing good clean water for the city of Reno," said Kalkowski.

Shirley Bremenour lives just feet from the fire line, and is not convinced her backyard view will be restored...at least not anytime soon.

"Well I know they say a year, but it will probably take a lot longer than that."

Kalkowski even admitted, while the different agencies strive to complete rehabilitation quickly...it doesn't always happen. Miles of crispy ground surfaces, destroyed fence lines and threatened wildlife cannot be replaced overnight.

"Huge concern. We're seeing cheat grass all the way up to 8,000 feet, which is just unprecedented."

Environmentalists say the damage is extensive...and a wildfire that leaves behind this type of impact can change the whole ecosystem if we don't work quickly.


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