Children reduce fire hazard at Fallen Leaf Lake |

Children reduce fire hazard at Fallen Leaf Lake

Andy Bourelle

Clad in work gloves and carrying handsaws, more than 20 workers spent Tuesday afternoon near Fallen Leaf Lake piling tree branches and cutting down small dead trees.

“Be very careful when you use these saws,” said Fallen Leaf Lake Fire Department Chief Jordan Pollack to the crew of American Evergreen Foundation workers. “Do you know why? That’s right, because they are very sharp.”

It may not seem like professionals should need that kind of instruction, but these workers weren’t exactly professionals.

They’re children.

Through the American Evergreen Foundation’s Junior Rangers Conservation through Participation program, a bus full of Carson City children, ages 12 to 14, helped the Fallen Leaf Lake Fire Department in a fuels reduction program.

“It’s probably going to be a five-year program. This is the first day,” Pollack said. “They’re great. It’s a great educational program; it’s a great help for the community.”

Working with Tahoe Re-Green and the U.S. Forest Service, the fire department is trying to reduce the fire hazard around Fallen Leaf Lake. The department wants to create “buffer” areas by removing branches, pine needles, bark, debris and other fire hazards from the forest’s floor. That way a wildfire would slow down when it hit the fuel break, and it would give firefighters a place to take a stand against a blaze.

The piles the children build will be covered in plastic and burnt in the fall.

American Evergreen Foundation is a Carson City-based organization that takes children from a variety of Northern Nevada boys and girls clubs, teaches them environmental stewardship and has them complete environmental work.

“We try to make it as fun as possible,” said Richard Van Dyke, executive director of the foundation. “We try to get people excited about the environment, because one thing you can’t get around is the hard work.”

The organization’s children, coming from a variety of locales, have completed work at Spooner Lake, Washoe Lake and other state and federal land. Sometimes they are planting trees; sometimes they are collecting dead branches.

Different groups go on the trips, and crews of the children are planned for two more trips to Fallen Leaf Lake this summer. They are supposed to come back next year, too.

“We have plenty of children and plenty of environmental issues,” Van Dyke said. “It’s great because the kids need something to do, and this way they learn and get a lot of work done at the same time.”

For more information about the American Evergreen Foundation, people can look at the World Wide Web:

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