Basin fire plan set to be ready by May | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Basin fire plan set to be ready by May

Gregory Crofton

STATELINE – A fire plan outline for the Lake Tahoe Basin that should be completed by May would give leverage to California and Nevada lawmakers who have promised to find federal funding.

The announcement was made by John Singlaub, executive director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, at the agency’s Governing Board meeting Wednesday in Stateline.

Fire plans for the Nevada side and the California side of the Lake Tahoe Basin are now separate documents. Nevada’s plan, which is complete, requires $19 million of forest work on more than 5,500 acres of public land.

The plan for the California side of the basin, which should be completed by mid-January, calls for about $37 million to treat 16,000 acres, said Jennifer Arrowsmith, administrator of the Tahoe Basin Fire Safe Council.

“The congressional delegation is looking at stand-alone legislation for the funding if we can’t get the money from the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act,” said Singlaub during a report to the Governing Board.

An amendment made to the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act – which involves selling land outside Las Vegas to generate money for other federal projects – provides $300 million for environmental improvement projects at Tahoe.

But if the money to thin forests in the basin can’t come from there, Singlaub said, the congressional delegation – Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., and Sen. Dianne Feinstein – have indicated they would work to secure the estimated $55 million need to do the work required in the Healthy Forest Restoration Act. It was signed into law in 2003 and provides more than $700 million for forest thinning across the nation.

Forest land next to communities, called the “urban interface,” would be tackled first and ideally be completed in five years. Thinning of the entire basin would be done in 10 years and then would require maintenance work, Singlaub said.

The bulk of the work would fall on the back of the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, which manages about 80 percent of the land around the lake.

“The goal of completing all the treatments needed for the urban interface on Forest Service land is one that both we and the congressional delegations share,” said Rex Norman, Forest Service public affairs officer for the basin. “We are hopeful that the necessary resources to meet this ambitious but vital goal will be available in the near future.”

– Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at gcrofton@tahoedailytribune.com


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