Waterfall Fire Interpretive Trail

Smoke from the Waterfall Fire billows behind the Cedar Building.
Smoke from the Waterfall Fire billows behind the Cedar Building.

In the summer of 2004, the massive Waterfall Fire ravaged homes and land in western Carson City, climbing the hills and marching toward the Tahoe Basin. Starting in the summer of 2009, five years after the fire, WNC Chemistry Professor Mike Sady and others are exploring the effects of the fire on vegetation and creating an interperative trail based on their experience.

Sponsored by the Nevada System of Higher Education and the National Science Foundation-EPSCoR, Sady and Dr. Jay Arnone of the Desert Research Institute studied burned and unburned areas in the Waterfall area. Other researchers on the project were Alice Sady and Ann Bollinger, in addition to volunteers.

Study objectives were to compare shrub and forest plant communities in burned and unburned areas, and then to evaluate the success of post-fire seeding. Their analysis was also intended to determine if climate change was a factor in the type of re-vegetation that occurred. The study group also considered the effects of sheep grazing on burned and unburned areas. To improve fire safety, the college has sheep graze seasonally near campus buildings to reduce fuels.

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