Division of Forestry says majority of wildfires in Humboldt County have been human-caused

The Nevada Division of Forestry (NDF) has reported that Humboldt County has seen 250 wildfires, burning 480,766.78 acres, since 2018. The majority of the fires, 173, have been human caused, destroying six different ranches, grazing land, and animal habitats. The remainders have been caused by weather or the cause has not been determined.

Human-caused wildfires are 100 percent preventable and initiatives such as the Fire Adapted Nevada Partnership aim to help communities recognize this and protect and enhance wildfire prevention. 

NDF Fire Adapted Nevada Partnership Coordinator Kelly Nevills presented information about Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) areas within Humboldt County to the Humboldt County Board of Commissioners at their regular meeting on Aug. 5 with Humboldt County Emergency Manager Carol Lynn. Commissioner Ron Cerri was absent and Commissioner Mark Evatz attended virtually. 

 WUIs are zones where human development, such as housing and other human-built environments meet the natural environment and are at greater risk for wildfires. 

Lynn and Nevills explained to the Board that the there have been several areas tentatively identified in Humboldt County as WUIs and adopting resolutions defining the WUI areas gives the County the ability to stipulate certain fire-prevention building/development regulations for the areas to help reduce wildfire risk when planning for expansion.

Although the presentation was for information only so no action was necessary by the Board, Commission Chairman Ken Tipton expressed concerns regarding how to enforce regulation regarding WUIs if they are officially accepted and the impact they may have on local grazing and Commissioner Jesse Hill expressed similar concerns regarding enforcement. 

Nevills explained that the WUI are put in place to plan for the growth of a community in several respects, not suppress it, and that they are evaluated every five years to account for changes and Lynn assured that considering the WUI designations would be in the best interest of the County in the future.  

In other Commission news:

• Lynn presented information to the Board regarding a flu pod that will provide 1,000 free flu vaccines to Humboldt County residents on Oct. 11 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the  Events Center.

• Lynn also presented more information regarding the County’s preparation for an influx of annular eclipse viewers on Oct. 14. Lynn explained that hotel rooms are already booked out for the weekend of the eclipse, which will be the last eclipse to come through for the next 12 years, and that she has been notifying local business owners, like restaurants, rv parks, and others, about the high number of travelers that are expected to flood Humboldt County for the weekend. 

According to Lynn, the County will be placing extra garbage and porta–potties along the expected travel routes to help mitigate some of the stress that the major influx may have on some of the smaller establishments. 

• The Board approved the acceptance of settlement amounts from the the ongoing opioid litigation throughout the State of Nevada against various defendants

including drug manufacturers, wholesale distributors, detailers, pharmacies, health care providers, and other unnamed defendants.

According to Deputy District Attorney Mike Macdonald, these settlements to Humboldt County will be from Walgreens in the amount of approximately $1.2 million, dispersed over 15 years, and Teva Pharmaceuticals in the amount of approximately $815,000 dispersed over 20 years. 

• Humboldt County Human Resources Director Kelly Kranovich presented a list of subcommittee members that will help approve candidates for the replacement of current County Manager Dave Mendiola pending his retirement in March of 2024. 

The Board approved the list of members, including Commissioner Cerri, County Clerk Tami Spero, Comptroller Gina Rackley, Kranovich, former commissioner and community representative Jim French, and Winnemucca City Manager Alicia Heiser, with the addition of Commissioner Tom Hoss at his request. 

• The Board approved an extension of the State of Nevada Department

of Health and Human Services Water and Sewer Assistance Program for users on the Star City Water System to March 31.  

The payment assistance program provides relief to qualifying users of the Star City System and was originally set to expire Sept. 30 but will be extended through March of 2024.

•  The Board approved multiple zone change requests during a public hearing for RH-23-25 through RH-23-28; RH-23-34 - RH-23-35; and approval of rezoning Applications for RH-23-29 through RH-23-33. 

• The Board approved a request by the Humboldt County Recorder’s Office to waive the attrition policy for an administrative clerk position. 

According to Humboldt County Recorder Tia Lange, the position is vital to the office because they have a small staff and they would like to get the position filled as soon as possible. 

• The Board also approved a request to waive the attrition policy for an administrative clerk at the Winnemucca Convention and Visitors Authority (WCVA). 

WCVA Director Kim Petersen said that they also have a small staff and need to fill the position as soon as possible. 

• A request by the Technology Services Department to purchase upgraded switch licenses and equipment for the installation of equipment on the tower and in the shelter for the McDermitt Public Safety Communication Site was approved.