Junk the Junipers!

Many Nevada homes are located in high wildfire hazard areas. Our environment possesses the right kind of weather, vegetation and topography to support wildfire. The potential for loss of life and property due to wildfire is growing. Nevada Wildfire Awareness Week, May 1 through May 7, is held each year to build awareness and encourage action to reduce the wildfire threat to homes and communities. This year, we are reminding everyone that YOU have a role in reducing the wildfire threat. This includes homeowners, federal, state and local firefighting representatives, members of the Nevada Fire Safe Council, city planners, fuels managers, landscapers, builders, open space managers and others. By working together, we can create fire-adapted communities designed to survive wildfire.

You can take action now on your property by removing ornamental junipers located within 30 feet of your home. Then, on Saturday May 7, dispose of them for FREE by bringing them to the south parking lot of the Casino Fandango Galaxy Theater between 8:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. In exchange, you will receive a coupon from Casino Fandango and another from Greenhouse Garden Center for a free #5-replacement plant or a 50 percent discount on up to 10 shrubs or perennials, limit one per household.

Why should you junk your junipers? Home survival during wildfire is greatly influenced by the characteristics of the vegetation growing adjacent to the house. Plants vary in flammability, so a key component to an effective defensible space is the selection and use of less hazardous plants in the residential landscape. Firefighters often refer to ornamental junipers as little green gas cans. During a wildfire, embers can smolder undetected under  junipers. The junipers can then ignite and burn intensely, potentially igniting anything else nearby, including your home. Junipers have also been known to ignite from lit matches or cigarettes tossed into them. By reducing the fuels around your home, such as junipers, you reduce the potential for a fire to generate enough heat to ignite the house. Keep the little green gas cans at least 30 feet from the house and replace them with low-growing deciduous shrubs, herbaceous flowers, rock mulches and hard surfaces.

The most important person in preventing a house from being destroyed by wildfire is the homeowner. And, it is the actions that a homeowner takes to create defensible space before a fire occurs that are critical. Do your part before fire season begins – junk your junipers.

For more information, see: www.livingwithfire.info. We all have a role—WILDFIRE SURVIVAL – IT TAKES A COMMUNITY!