Governors announce bi-state Tahoe Basin Fire Commission
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons announced the creation of the California-Nevada Tahoe Basin Fire Commission this morning at a press conference at Lake Valley Fire Station 7.
The two governors signed a memorandum of understanding to create a panel of 17 voting members that represent each state’s stake in the responsible management of lands and fire fuels within the Lake Tahoe Basin, including representatives from affected state agencies, fire agencies and the public. They also requested the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to designate one person from the United States Forest Service to serve on the commission.
The Commission will perform a comprehensive review of the laws, policies and practices that affect the vulnerability of the basin to wildfires. It will also study and consider various user-friendly approaches to reducing the threat of wildfires while protecting the environment and submit a report and recommendations to the two governors by March 21, 2008.
“It is crucial that we all work together to prevent something like the Angora fire from happening again and also make sure people have the right fire protection tools to protect their property,” said Schwarzenegger. “With this action we are taking today I know California and Nevada will rise to the occasion and make sure the Lake Tahoe Basin remains as safe as it is beautiful.”
The Angora fire, which started on June 24, burned 254 homes and 3,100 acres in the North Upper Truckee area near the South Lake Tahoe city limits. Total damage is estimated at $160 million. It was started by an illegal campfire.
The Commission will disband 60 days after delivering its report and recommendations.
To help the victims recover, Schwarzenegger has been engaged in the response efforts since the Angora Fire began on June 24.
On July 4, 2007, Governor Schwarzenegger sent a letter to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) requesting that El Dorado County be declared a disaster area in order to provide SBA Disaster Loan Program assistance to Angora fire victims.
The request was granted and will qualify victims of the Angora fire for low income loans of up to $200,000 for homeowners to repair or replace their damaged or destroyed primary residence. Also, homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property. Businesses of any size and private non-profit organizations may borrow up to $1.5 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. The loans are available for homeowners, renters and business owners whose property was damaged or destroyed in the fire.
As a result of this disaster, El Dorado County proclaimed a local emergency June 24 and subsequently requested state and federal assistance by a separate proclamation issued June 25.