Forester wants fire jurisdiction in Nevada defined |

Forester wants fire jurisdiction in Nevada defined

Nevada’s top forester has asked the state attorney general’s office to decide which agencies have jurisdiction over fire issues on its side of the basin.

In his request, Steve Robinson said the clarification was needed because “there appear to be conflicts with (Tahoe Regional Planning Agency) standards and Nevada law regarding removal of fire hazardous vegetation.”

Robinson’s unusual request follows an opinion by North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District’s counsel Geno Menchetti in September that the authority lies with local agencies and not with TRPA.

Menchetti based his opinion on the U.S. Constitution, which he says grants the authority because no mandate for it appears in either of the federal bistate compacts that created TRPA.

Menchetti gave his opinion in part because the six fire chiefs issued a letter of concern in August that shorezone scenic rules proposed by TRPA should meet the highest fire standards.

Robinson’s request comes when, by coincidence, a retiring basin fire chief is poised to become a member of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s Governing Board.

Outgoing Tahoe-Douglas Fire Chief Tim Smith, who retires in December, defeated District 4 incumbent Don Miner. Miner represents Douglas County on the TRPA Governing Board.

Although the county commission has considerable freedom in its choice of TRPA representative, it generally selects the commissioner who represents Douglas County’s Lake Tahoe portion, which is contained entirely within District 4.

While Smith says he will carefully monitor fire issues if appointed to the Governing Board, he doesn’t believe the issue played a large role in his election.

“Fire, to a great extent, wasn’t an issue,” Smith said last week. “The vote was countywide, not just in my district. But I also won in my district, which was gratifying.”

Smith said the issue may resolve itself. In a meeting with the basin’s fire chiefs following their August letter, TRPA assured the chiefs it would comply with National Fire Protection Association wildland fire codes.

“We felt we got a good commitment from TRPA at that meeting,” Smith said.

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