Anyone can have a hand in keeping Tahoe green |

Anyone can have a hand in keeping Tahoe green

by Andy Bourelle

Just because the Lake Tahoe Basin is white during the winter doesn’t mean officials aren’t hard at work to try to keep the forests green.

Fire district representatives, U.S. Forest Service officials, residents and other members of Tahoe Re-Green have been working to establish a game plan for 1999. One of the main goals for the upcoming year will be to reach out to the community more, including establishing neighborhood stewardship days and providing information through schools.

“Re-Green is making a real commitment to including the communities of Lake Tahoe in its programs and plans to help reduce the risk of catastrophic fire in the Tahoe Basin,” said Susan-Marie Hagen, coordinator for Tahoe Re-Green.

However, 1998 will be a tough year to follow.

Two major accomplishments highlighted the coalition this year: The formation of a Tahoe Re-Green Citizens Committee as well as the publication of a citizen’s guide to fire hazard reduction and removal of trees on public and private land in the basin.

“We put the guide together to simplify the whole process for the citizens, a step-by-step process in the simplest terms to help citizens remove hazardous trees,” Hagen said. “That was our major accomplishment last year. That took six or seven months, and these people worked so hard, and Re-Green funded the first 10,000 copies, which have been distributed all around the basin.”

The formation of the Tahoe Re-Green Citizens Committee was a step toward public involvement.

“(Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Forest Supervisor) Juan Palma’s idea was if we get members of the community involved in the process, that will also help with public outreach and education and help people voluntarily comply (with Tahoe Re-Green prescriptions),” Hagen said. “A lot of the problems are on private land or public land up against private land. We want to get the community involved.”

The citizens committee first met a few months ago, and it is already making its presence felt.

“They have brought incredible resources to Re-Green in terms of their experiences and knowledge – knowledge of the basin and its communities,” Hagen said. “It’s just amazing.”

“Everyone is very enthusiastic,” said Shirley Taylor, chair of the citizens committee. “They’re able to really lend support to a lot of ideas and really publicize the efforts of Re-Green in the basin.”

For 1999, the Tahoe Re-Green Citizens’ Committee has formed a media, education and public outreach committee to establish a media campaign for the basin, Reno and Sacramento as well as develop contacts in the school districts, home owners associations, general improvement districts and sewer and water districts.

Another sub-committee will focus on ways of obtaining funding for Re-Green projects.

A major goal of the citizens committee is to assist in planning, organizing and staffing Tahoe Re-Green Neighborhood Stewardship Days.

For the neighborhood stewardship days, the hope is to have crews clearing forest parcels, residents working on their own lots as well as having information available to anyone participating.

“The neighborhood stewardship days will provide a wonderful opportunity to get the word out what about we’re doing, get work done within those priority areas and to get the community involved,” Hagen said.

The Tahoe Re-Green project was formed in 1995 because of the threat of wildfire in the basin. It is the consortium of numerous government and private agencies as well as individuals. The organization has identified priority areas in the basin which represent the most risk, and Forest Service, California Tahoe Conservancy and other crews thin those parcels using the “Tahoe Re-Green prescription.”

“It’s just a loose coalition,” Hagen said. “We have no official authority. We’ve just all trying to ban together to reduce the risk of catastrophic fire in the basin, and I think we’ve accomplished a great deal so far.”

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