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Board approves $3.8 million addition to Nevada forestry budget for fires

by by Geoff Dornan, Nevada Appeal (Carson City, Nev.) |

The Nevada Board of Examiners voted on Tuesday to add $3.8 million to cover the cost of fighting wildland fires this past summer.

State Forester K.C. Kacey told the board that will cover, "the bills that need to be paid today." She said there will be more bills this fall and that there could be some offsetting reimbursements from state help to fight fires on federal lands.

"This is what we know we have as far as payments today," she said.

Kacey told the board she will release fire restrictions in the state pretty soon since the wildland areas still aren't getting enough humidity and precipitation to ensue the fire season is over this year.

"We're not out of the woods," she said. "It all depends on what moisture is to come."

The $3.8 million contingency fund expenditure must still be approved by the legislative Interim Finance Committee.

"Precipitation during the spring of 2018 came at a time that led to significant growth of annual grasses," she said in her report. "Additionally, the relatively mild winter of 2017-2018 did not produce a significant snow pack to crush the previous season's grass growth."

The result, she said, was a large amount of easily ignited fuel that contributed to several large wildfires, including the Martin Fire — at almost 400,000 acres, the largest wildfire ever in Nevada.

To date, she said Nevada has experienced 523 wildfires that burned more than 1 million acres.
Of those, she said 28 percent started on State of Nevada property and the cost of fighting those fires is initially borne by the jurisdiction where it started.