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Forest Service considers Johnson Blvd. site

Andy Bourelle

Between Johnson Boulevard and the post office, Lake Tahoe Community College has a parcel of land with just trees and grass.

The U.S. Forest Service hopes, within a few years, a new Supervisors’ Office will be located there to house the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit and several other state agencies.

“We’re in the preliminary planning stage,” said Colin West, engineering and recreation staff officer for the LTBMU. “We’re hoping to break ground in the spring of 2000.”

The project has been planned for several years, and several sites have been considered. However, the forest service has narrowed down the 12-acre parcel on the college’s land as the best location.

“What we’re trying to do is have a building not just for the forest service, but also for several state agencies,” West said. “We want to create kind of one-stop shopping for resource issues.”

The Natural Resource Conservation Service and California Department of Forestry likely would have offices at the location. It’s also possible, West said, that the California Tahoe Conservancy and Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board could relocate there in the future.

Dennis Machida, executive director of the California Tahoe Conservancy, said the state is looking at a number of options, including the community college.

“Just being close to the college and the forest service, it’s kind of an opportunity to combine resources and ideas,” Machida said. “It’s a good idea because we work with the forest service a lot.”

Lahontan has a lease on its building for another three years, but after that the relocation is possible if the “timing and cost were appropriate,” according to Bob Dodds, assistant executive officer of Lahontan.

“We talked about it in concept a few years ago, and we thought it would work out quite well,” he said. “But conceptually the costs were higher than we could afford to pay at that time.”

LTBMU Forest Supervisor Juan Palma said he is excited about the possibility of building at the location.

“One of the reasons I’m excited about this is because it will provide the opportunity for one-stop shopping for the public. The second reason I’m really excited is because we’ll be closer to the college,” he said.

Being near Lake Tahoe Community College will provide the opportunity for sharing resources as well as internship and learning opportunities for students.

“We always look for partnerships to make with the community,” said Wait Griswold, LTCC vice president of academic affairs and student services. “We feel wherever this partnership ultimately leads is going to be great, especially in connection with our environmental programs.”

Palma agrees.

“It will be a win-win situation for the college and us,” he said.

The LTBMU wants to relocate its offices, currently located on Emerald Bay Road, for several reasons, West said. The building used now is leased, and the overall financial benefit would be better if the forest service leased the land but owned the building.

West also said the current building has “totally inadequate parking for employees and the public.”

The forest service’s work center in Meyers was considered but would not be able to house the other state agencies. Land on Emerald Bay Road near Camp Richardson was considered but the classification of the land would not allow for the building. West said several Nevada sites were considered, but none would be able to house the California agencies.

“We’ve been evaluating a number of different locations, and currently (the college site) is preferred,” West said.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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