- Associated Press - Sunday, May 25, 2014

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Ten areas in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest in Nevada have been selected as top priorities for projects to combat damage from insects and disease that increases wildfire risk.

Plans under the state-federal effort announced this week include forest thinning to reduce the risk of insect infestation or disease, and to remove dead and dying trees. Thinning projects reduce the possibility that an entire stand of trees could be burned by wildfire, officials said.

In response to a provision in a new farm bill passed by Congress, Gov. Brian Sandoval urged U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell to designate the 10 areas for special attention.

The designations will allow the Forest Service and Nevada Division of Forestry to more efficiently plan and implement projects as funding becomes available, officials said.

“The ability to proactively manage national forest lands within the state of Nevada is important to the preservation and safety of our communities,” Sandoval said in a statement.

The priority areas include the Lee Canyon, Deer Creek and Kyle Canyon watersheds in Clark County, and the Hidden Valley-Steamboat and Franktown-Frontal Washoe Lake watersheds in Washoe County.

Other areas targeted are the West Fork Pine Creek-Jarbidge River and Thomas Creek-Lamoille Creek watersheds in Elko County, and the Gilford Creek-Duck Creek, Murray Creek and Siegel Creek-Spring Valley Creek watersheds in White Pine County.

The Alkali Creek watershed in Humboldt County and the Clear Creek watershed in Carson City and Douglas County are the others.

“Forest health projects in these areas would greatly reduce the risk of severe wildfire to nearby communities,” said Nevada State Forester Pete Anderson.

Anderson’s agency and the Forest Service worked together to identify areas that are experiencing declining forest health and at risk for major increases in tree die-off. They also considered areas that pose imminent risk to public infrastructure, health and safety.

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