Danger for Alpine County? | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Danger for Alpine County?

Residents and decision makers from Lake Tahoe’s neighbor to the south, Alpine County, have a big problem with President Clinton’s proposal to protect 50 million acres of roadless areas nationwide.

The reason is Alpine County is nearly three-fourths roadless.

About 96 percent of Alpine County’s 726 acres is publicly owned. About 49 percent of that is designated wilderness area, the highest level of protection the federal government gives its land. While Clinton’s proposal does not protect it to that degree, the protection could impact as much as 20 percent more of the land. That could keep nearly 70 percent of the county roadless, which Alpine officials say would restrict access to those areas for many people. Recreation is the No. 1 moneymaker for Alpine County.

“I think it will kill the economy of this county,” said Nancy Thornburg, an Alpine County resident.

Thornburg said she also was concerned about fire protection. A dangerous wildfire would be difficult to fight if nearly three-fourths of the county had no roads.

Herman Zellmer, chairman of the Alpine County Board of Supervisors, agrees. He and the rest of the board members last November sent extensive comments to the Forest Service decrying the plan.

“There will be significant social, economic and environmental consequences,” the comments said.

“I just feel like there’s not a really good reason to do this,” Zellmer said.

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