Cave Rock decision postponed a month |

Cave Rock decision postponed a month

B.H. Bose

Anyone interested in what management plan the U.S. Forest Service decides to implement at Cave Rock already has had approximately six months and five meetings to voice an opinion to the federal agency.

While a proposed action was due in July, those anticipating the decision will have to wait at least another month.

“We will not be announcing until August,” said Lisa O’Daly, a community planner with the forest service. “There is just too much going on. The forest service is working on it and will announce the proposed action in mid-August.”

Cave Rock, which is located just north of Zephyr Cove, has become a hot topic. Rock climbers, for one, want to continue to climb on the old volcano neck and feel they do not deface or desecrate the surface when they do so. Members of the Washoe Tribe, which once roamed the shores of Lake Tahoe long before the first European settlers found their way into the area, see the area as a powerful, spiritual place. They want to stop any activity, rock climbing or other, on the rock because they believe it desecrates the sacred location.

Steve Wyatt, a member of the Washoe Tribe and the Indian Peoples’ Committee to Save Cave Rock, said earlier that when the plan is published, “We will review it closely and if there is even a hint of us getting the short end of the stick we will go back and say revise your plan.”

The tribe, and any other party or public member for that matter, will get the chance to give any thoughts it might have after the action comes out.

“This action is a target for people to shoot at,” O’Daly said. “It is only a proposed action that says, ‘With the information we have today, this is the way we will probably be going. Tell us what you think.’ The forest service is basically turning over its hand, and the public has the opportunity to tell us where we went wrong and where we went right.”

O’Daly said a public comment period, as is mandated in the National Environmental Policy Act, will follow the announcement of the proposed action. The forest service will come back with an environmental impact statement draft which will again be followed by a public comment period. The final environmental impact statement and management decision about Cave Rock, probably will not come until the beginning of next year, said O’Daly.

Due to outcry stemming from rock climbing and other activities, a closure order was issued Dec. 30, 1997 prohibiting any activity, such as the installation of rock climbing bolts, that could deface or damage the rock. In January, a series of public sessions started after officials at the forest service decided they wanted to hear from the public in an informal atmosphere before ultimately making a final decision.

During these sessions, the forest service has been “position-less,” O’Daly said.

“We were just there to hear from the public,” O’Daly said, pointing out that the forest service is just in the beginning of an extensive Cave Rock planning process. “Cave Rock is a very important topic to a lot of people.”

Also pushing back the announcement is the fact that the forest service is busy preparing for a July 18 workshop, “Working Together to Preserve a National Treasure,” which is a progress report on the preservation and improvement efforts underway at Lake Tahoe.

“We have a number of things going on with the July 18 workshop,” said Linda Massey, the public information officer for the forest service.

“There is just an awful lot going on. We will take the July 18 event first and then go from there.”

While the final decision will be announced by Forest Supervisor Juan Palma, it will stem from the collaboration sessions and will be based solely on the public’s input, O’Daly added.

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