NDF FIRE SUPPRESSION
Bob Roper, State Forester/Firewarden for the Nevada Division of Forestry, spoke with the Commissioners as NDF and the County begin their second contract with the County on the Wildfire Protection Plan.
Roper related that the program had a couple of slow years at the beginning which Roper felt was “great” as NDF learned how to “polish and improve” the new program. If a fire happens, Eureka County as a fire district retains control of the fires as the agency with jurisdiction. NDF comes in only upon Eureka’s request and doesn’t tell the County how to put out the fires but comes in and advises and deals with cost controls. NDF is the “informal All State insurance adjustor,” coming in and monitoring the costs and broker deals between the feds and local cooperators. The County generally doesn’t have out of pocket expenses rather the State shoulders those. If the County has expenses to member fire departments, the State will reimburse “in a timely fashion and we will suffer years later getting reimbursed by the federal government,” which Roper said, “works well for you.”
If homes are threatened, it is the County’s responsibility to file fire assistance grants which NDF will help facilitate and then it goes back up through NDF to Washington, DC with paperwork having to be filed in a timely manner since the grant requests can’t be submitted after homes are burned: a threat has to be shown and NDF helps to facilitate that getting done in a timely fashion.
Roper said questions have arisen over when fires come up as to who’s responsible for the fire investigation and cost. He said Eureka County is technically responsible for the fire investigation but can ask NDF who has an agreement with the State Fire Marshall who’ll send people out to do it. Local law enforcement and fire department staff are to protect the area of origin for evidence and NDF documents so if cost recovery is needed a package can be pulled together.
Roper said a clause in the contract establishes that not only are wildland fires covered but also floods such as recently in Gardnerville and Minden when a storm cell caused flooding and NDF sent a helicopter for air reconnaissance as well as hand crews to do rehab of road surfaces for their county public works and have used hand crews and staff for rescues in Elko County. Roper said if Eureka County needs “extra bodies or expertise” to reach out as a member as that’s a service available.
Roper said they’ll be meeting with Eureka County staff in January or February to review what happened this year and determine how to improve and look at the plan for the entire state to make it a better tool.
Roper said the premium Eureka County paid to the State has been exceeded. NDF has 15 fire crews and is working to keep people certified and prisoners trained to help in fire suppression.
NDF has seen legislation enacted which takes a couple of neighbors or private businesses with a rancher and empowers them once boundaries are created and training taken to detect and suppress a fire which differs from a volunteer fire department as farmers can define boundaries. The USFS and BLM have signed on to the legislation as far as providing training and providing personal protective gear to help out. What happens is two neighbors get together, define boundaries to work under, follow a check list and once that’s completed they come to the Board of Directors of the 474 Fire District of the county or come to the county commissioners and ask for approval. The County can use their own or NDFs guidelines and once they gain the county’s approval then the county or the local fire district “can choose to administer the RFPA themselves or they can ask NDF to come in and assist or they can ask NDF to come in and take it over.”
NDF’s goal was to give authority to the local jurisdiction at no cost which has been done successfully. NDF, once a group is authorized they with BLM and the FS do training to get them up and running and will work with them on radios and tactics to assist in keeping fires small. Training involves about 160 hours which is part of the legal mandate with much of the training available over the internet with 40 hours of face to face training. Roper said currently for the State of Nevada nobody is established but an RFPA in Idaho extends into Elko Coutny and a group out of Humboldt County is in the process. Roper will share more information and NDF is in the process of doing the permanent regulations and once they receive the proper language from the Legislative Counsel’s office will be doing the permanent regulations.
Goicoechea noted the participants have to have liability insurance and likely have to create an LLC. The County the farmers are in don’t have to belong to WFPP. Goicoechea noted there are places where that could be a factor.
Etchegaray commented Eureka County likely wants to get something set up.
Roper said NDF welcomes the opportunity to come out and make a presentation to move things forward.
Goicoechea said there are volunteer fire crews in every valley and ranch and every place in the county is covered by volunteers.
Roper said the volunteer programs are well-structured throughout Eureka while areas in Lander haven’t been organized and don’t have coverage in certain areas and Elko County needs help. Roper noted Eureka County is well served by the volunteer structure in place.
DNRPCA AND EUREKA COUNTY AGREE ON NEED FOR FULL ADJUDICATION OF DIAMOND VALLEY BASIN 153 BY THE STATE ENGINEER
Mark Moyle of the DNRPCA came before the Board asking the Commission to consider the Diamond Natural Resources Protection and Conservation Association’s petition to the Seventh Judicial District Court regarding adjudication of Basin 153, Diamond Valley.
Moyle noted the DNRPCA Board voted to ask the State Engineer to do a full adjudication as they see it as imperative that all water, both surface and underground, is adjudicated at the same time rather than being a partial adjudication as the Diamond Valley farmers bring a large portion of Eureka County tax revenue and the DNRPCA feels bringing stability to the Diamond Valley water resources will benefit Eureka County. Moyle noted water adjudication combined with a water management plan could bring stability to Diamond Valley. Moyle asked for the County’s support in petitioning.
Goicoechea asked if other groups might sign on as well besides the DNRPCA and the Board.
Moyle thought, “Probably people will sign on.”
Goicoechea also expressed concern over doing adjudication in a piece meal fashion.
Moyle said, “Partial adjudication is not acceptable.”
Goicoechea commended the DNRPCA for working on a ground water management plan. “I think this is a step in the right direction getting to the end that we have to have.” Goicoechea called for a motion to file the petition which Etchegaray brought, Sharkozy seconded and a unanimous vote followed.
Goicoechea encouraged the DNRPCA to join the protest to show it’s not just Eureka County. “I think it’s time the southern end of this county stood together” and “work through legal counsel” moving forward “to figure out a way to do it together.”
Moyle expressed thanks.
Eureka County Commissioners approved:
Expenditures of $759,412.11, including Special Payroll of $14,340.33 and Payroll of $285,473.68;
A temporary IT Services contract with Mike Rebaleati for six months including assistance with the annual audit at $3,000 per month;
Rescheduling the quarterly meeting in Crescent Valley, which was originally scheduled for July 15th but had to be cancelled due to lack of quorum, to Aug. 20 as part of the regular meeting;
Paying a Fiscal Year 2014-2015 membership assessment of $10,000.00 for the Humboldt River Basin Water Authority;
Replacing the Eureka Road Shop Senior Mechanic;
Replacing the Beowawe Road Maintenance Equipment Operator/Mechanic;
Renewing the contract with Genesis Home Health Services, Inc., for Fiscal Year 2015-2016, and set not to exceed amount of $20,000;
Renewing the contract with Consumer Direct Personal Care, LLC (dba Better@Home), for Fiscal Year 2015-2016;
Holding off on the Resolution to adjust ambulance rates charged to the Eureka public;
Accepting Karen Rowley’s resignation from the Economic Development Program Board and authorizing the ECEDP to advertise to fill vacancies;
Paying Fiscal Year 2014-2015 membership assessment of $10,000.00 for the Humboldt River Basin Water Authority;
Reducing the number of member seats on the Eureka County Advisory Board to Manage Wildlife from five to three in accordance with NRS 501.260(2)(a);
Providing support towards Congressional efforts to allow states to implement sage grouse management plans in lieu of undue regulation through Land Use Plan Amendments or Endangered Species Act listing;
Self-nomination as a Small Entity Representative (SER) for the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), Section 108(b) Small Business Advocacy Review (SBAR) Panel;
Empower Jake Tibbitts to draft input to be presented at the July 23rd State Engineer hearing regarding designation of Diamond Valley as a Critical Management Area.