Nevada City, Calif., May 8, 2017 – Although there is still plenty of snow in the high country, the Tahoe National Forest is getting ready for summer, and that means being ready for wildfires. From conducting springtime prescribed burns to hiring seasonal firefighters, the Forest is preparing for wildfires and you should too.
Each year in California, we observe Wildfire Awareness Week during the first part of May with the goal of raising public awareness of wildfires and promoting actions that reduce the risk from wildfire to homes and communities. This week (May 8-12), there will be numerous events across the state to further promote these goals.
Fire season in the Sierra Nevadas may get off to a slower start than usual due to historically high snowpack levels. The average snowpack across the entire range was at 185% of normal according to the Department of Water Resources. By region, the Northern Sierra Nevada snowpack was at 159%, Central was at 191% and Southern was at 201%. This winter has been California’s wettest in at least 20 years, and in some parts of the state, it may be the rainiest in history, according to state data. These conditions will hopefully allow fire managers on the Tahoe National Forest to implement prescribed burns this spring that will clear out ladder fuels and brush, reducing the risk of extreme wildfires that pose threats to communities.
“The Tahoe National Forest is committed to creating more fire resilient landscapes and taking actions that will reduce the risk of wildfires impacting homes and communities,” said Shelly Allen, Forest Fire Management Officer. “We have multiple fuels reduction projects occurring across the Forest to work toward these goals. These projects include prescribed fire, chipping, piling, and thinning.”
In preparation for the upcoming wildland fire season, the Tahoe National Forest has completed hiring for the season and is in the process of bringing on and training new employees. The Tahoe will have: two water tenders; 11 engines; three 20-person Type 1 Hotshot Crews; 10 Patrol Units; one air tactical group supervisor; two helicopters staffed with 17 firefighters; and 11 Chief Officers.