Caldor Fire: Congress demands answers
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Members of Congress are inquiring about a failed U.S Forest Service plan that could have saved Grizzly Flat from being destroyed by the Caldor Fire.
In a Nov. 18 letter to Forest Service Chief Randy Moore, lawmakers demand answers on shortcomings of the Forest Service’s Trestle Forest Health Project, meant to remove 15,000 acres of fire fuels to protect the town from potential wildfire.
The Caldor Fire started in the Eldorado National Forest near Omo Ranch and razed hundreds of homes in Grizzly Flat.
A collaborative investigation between news outlets CapRadio and The California Newsroom makes the case that the Forest Service failed to deliver on its plan to protect the town, despite its warnings 20 years ago that a wildfire could wipe out the small community.
“In light of the recent investigation by CapRadio and the California Newsroom — and the billions of dollars that Congress has recently provided for hazardous fuels projects — we request that you provide us with a detailed briefing regarding the failed implementation of the Trestle Project, which experts have determined could have saved the town and spared its residents,” states the letter.
The Forest Service launched a vegetation management project in 2017.
CapRadio reported the Forest Service completed 14% of the project before the Caldor Fire sparked Aug. 14, 2021. The completion date for the project was set for 2020.
The letter signed by congressional members Alex Padilla, Zoe Lofgren, Mark DeSaulnier, Doug LaMalfa, Jimmy Panetta, Mark DeSaulnier, Katie Porter, Mike Thompson, Scott Peters, Tony Cardenas, Salud Carbajal, Jared Huffman, Adam Schiff and Sen. Dianne Feinstein requested explanations on the Forest Service’s delays on the project.
“Though we understand the administrative and environmental hurdles facing forest management projects — including staffing shortages, funding challenges, climate change and endangered species concerns — the length of delays with regard to the Trestle Forest Health Project are particularly egregious and raise broader concerns,” states the letter.
Read the full letter online at bit.ly/CaldorFireletter.
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