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Nevada receives $20 million for wildfire research

Dozer helping construct fire line on the Dixie Fire on September 9, 2021.{ }(Bureau of Land Management // Joe Bradshaw)Thumbnail
Dozer helping construct fire line on the Dixie Fire on September 9, 2021. (Bureau of Land Management // Joe Bradshaw)Thumbnail
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The Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) is getting more than $20 million for fire research here in the Silver State.

The announcement first came down on Monday from Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, who is working to expand the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) grant program -- where the money is coming from.

Senator Cortez Masto said, "Nevada is facing another summer of intense fire danger, and we need to be doing all we can to combat this threat."

“The funding I helped advocate for will dramatically expand Nevada’s wildfire prevention efforts, improve land management practices across the state, and train new wildfire experts. I’ll continue working to deliver robust federal resources to help combat wildfires in our communities and prevent them before they spark," added Senator Cortez Masto.

Experts across the board agree fires are becoming harder to predict and even more difficult to understand.

This is why we are seeing federal and national efforts -- like this one -- to get ahead of the threat, said Fred Harris, Nevada State EPSCoR Director.

The $20 million is being divided up over five years across the Desert Research Institute (DRI), UNLV, and UNR.

Harris added the grant is matched by the State of Nevada at an additional four million dollars, making it a total of $24 million headed towards researchers in the state.

This money will allow more insight into fire damage to the soil, and allow for more employees to be hired on research teams.

The University of Nevada said the threat of wildfires is ongoing and we still have a lot to learn about this changing climate, its effects on fires, and how to best respond. Researchers will be looking at the ecology, hydrology, modeling, and emissions related to wildfire-- also improving our available data.

Harris said,

When we want to model them we are using data that is old. So can we fly some drones to get some better data on what we have for fuel out there. Those trees are bigger than they were when the data was collected over 30 years ago.

"We are not ahead of the game here," added Harris, who said we need to build a better infrastructure within the state and apply some different things they learn through research to wildfires.

Here is a look a the project summary, provided by Harris:

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