Forest Fuels Treatment Program available to Pine Ridge and Niobrara Valley |

Forest Fuels Treatment Program available to Pine Ridge and Niobrara Valley

LINCOLN, Neb. – As people move into rural, often forested areas, their homes and buildings can be vulnerable when catastrophic wildland fires occur. With several years of below-average precipitation, forests and grasslands are dangerously dry.

The Nebraska Forest Service’s Forest Fuels Treatment Program can help landowners take steps to reduce forest materials on their land, creating an environment less prone to fires and their spread. These programs provide several types of cost-share assistance to forest landowners and are available to the Pine Ridge and Niobrara Valley areas.

As forests continue to grow, so do pine needles, pine cones and branches on the forest floor. Brush and small trees growing in the forest understory near larger trees are called ladder fuels because they serve as a pathway for ground fires to become highly destructive crown fires, said Jessica Yahnke, forester with the Nebraska Forest Service in Valentine.

“When fires reach the forest canopy they can behave erratically and can quickly spread, thus making firefighters’ jobs more difficult and dangerous,” she said. “As crowns of trees are consumed by fire, there is a tremendous release of energy, putting property – and lives – at risk.”

Fuels treatment projects can help create an environment less prone to crown fires and rapid fire spread. Projects are conducted within overgrown forestland to remove ladder fuels and create space between the crowns of overstory trees. During fuels treatment projects, timber is removed either mechanically or by hand. Leftover debris is typically scattered and left to decompose or piled for controlled burning or wildlife habitat.

For more information about the Nebraska Forest Service Forest Fuels Treatment Program in the Niobrara Valley, contact Jessica Yahnke at (402) 376-1850, email and in the Pine Ridge contact John Overstreet at (308) 432-3179, email

A brochure is available at

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