In recent years, we have begun to see an increase in extreme wildfires across the western United States. From 2000 to 2018, wildfires were responsible for burning 9.5 million acres in Nevada alone. The past two years were particularly brutal, as more than 2.3 million acres were destroyed by wildfires. Last year, the Martin Fire and the Sugarloaf Fire burned nearly 1 million acres in northeast Nevada.
Unchecked wildfires have dire economic and environmental impacts on local communities. They destroy grazing lands and disrupt ranching operations that are vital to our state’s farmers.
Fires also devastate the habitats of myriad wildlife, including endangered species, and foster fertile grounds for invasive plants.
For example, we have seen an influx of highly flammable plants, such as cheatgrass, that have overtaken our native sagebrush ecosystem. Today, we have an estimated 10 million acres of the Nevada landscape where cheatgrass is present.