Fire Update 8/24/13 AM
Incident: Spring Peak Wildfire
The Sierra Front
Mike Brown Team
Public Information Officer
Cell (775) 461-6200
August 24, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE- A.M. UPDATE
Date Started: 8/17/2013
Total Personnel: 205
Threatened Residential Structures: 0
Threatened Commercial Structures: 0
Size: 14,230 acres
Percent Contained: 85%
Resources: Helicopters 1;
Engines 5; Crews 5; Water Tenders 1; Dozers 1
Injuries to Date: 2
Successful Sage Grouse Habitat Protection in Spring Peak Fire Management
MINERAL COUNTY, NV/MONO COUNTY, CA- Firefighter and public safety are always the first priority in suppression activities. On the Spring Peak fire, a second focus was on protecting Bodie State Historic Park as well as the townsite and cemetery at Aurora. The third priority for fire managers was to leave “green islands” of unburned sagebrush where possible and minimize damage to habitat throughout the area.
These green islands provide cover and a food source for the Bi-State sage grouse, a chicken-sized bird that cannot survive in areas where sagebrush does not exist. The geographically isolated population sage grouse living in the area that straddles the California/Nevada border near the fire will take advantage of these islands for nesting and rearing their young, for hiding from predators, and as their primary food source through the long winter. While almost all of the 14,230 acre area burned was designated as preliminary priority habitat (PPH) for the Bi-State sage grouse, this habitat is also important for many other species, including pronghorn, mule deer, and pygmy rabbits (the smallest rabbits in the Western hemisphere!).
Wildfires in the Western Great Basin typically leave patches of unburned fuels across the landscape. Often, firefighters will burn out these patches during suppression to reduce the possibility that they may ignite before the fire is contained. In the Spring Peak fire, all habitat was lost in some areas, but in others, the fire burned in a mosaic patterns, leaving 1,640 acres of unburned sagebrush.
Leaving these green islands, as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Forest Service (FS) were able to do in the Indian Fire, was a huge success, according to BLM wildlife biologist Sherri Lisuis. Biologists monitoring collared birds saw that the islands were heavily used in the year immediately following the fire. Here, firefighters, biologists and Spring Peak Fire Incident Commander Mike Brown have already reported seeing sage grouse within the fire area – “As we flew over, they just scooted right into that green – it was great to see that happen. What we’re doing here is working.”
This morning, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval will send his Chief of Staff and Policy Advisor to view the efforts made to protect sage grouse habitat. Mop-up operations continue today, with crews patrolling for hot spots and securing the perimeter.
Smoke in the area is increasing due to the Rim Fire in the Yosemite area. (For additional information on the Rim Fire, please visit: http://www.inciweb.org/incident/3660/). Heavy smoke may impair visibility- drivers should take extra care. Residents are urged to take precautions to avoid health problems related to the smoky conditions caused by that fire. Examples of precautions include: limiting outdoor activities and remaining in an air-conditioned environment if possible; if you do not have an air conditioner and if smoke is likely to get inside your house, leave the area until the smoke is completely gone; avoid activities that put extra demand on your lungs and heart; contact your medical provider if you are concerned or your health gets worse. Smoke may worsen symptoms for people who have heart or lung disease, or other pre-existing respiratory conditions such as respiratory allergies, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). When smoke levels are high enough, even healthy people may experience some of these symptoms.
The Sierra Front Cooperators, led by Incident Commander Mike Brown, have been managing the incident after taking over the fire at 0600 on August 19, 2013. Throughout the week, the participation of cooperators throughout northern Nevada and California has been essential to the success of firefighting efforts. Cooperators include U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Nevada Division of Forestry, National Guard, Nevada Division of Emergency Management, CalFire, California State Parks, Reno Fire Department, Sparks Fire Department, Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District, Carson City Fire Department, North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection, Storey County Fire Department, Mason Valley Fire Department, Central Lyon County Fire Protection District, East Fork Fire Protection District, California Highway Patrol, and local law enforcement agencies.
Unless conditions change, the Sierra Front Incident Management Team for the Spring Peak Fire will transfer management of the incident to the local Forest Service Unit at 2:00pm on Sunday, August 25, 2013. For the most up to date information visit: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sierra-Front-Wildfire-Cooperators/117659718406346 ref=br_tf.