‘Layers of bureaucracy’ blasted from residents: Citizens voice their frustration following Angora fire
A panel of representatives from a dozen agencies charged with the management of the Lake Tahoe Basin forests heard the frustrations of an auditorium full of South Shore residents on Monday night, as hundreds came out to express their opinion in the wake of the Angora fire.
After each of the agency officials spoke about what their organization has done to manage forest fuels in the past and the direction they see their agencies going in the future, members of the public were each given one minute to speak.
Attendees raised a number of concerns, ranging from agencies hindering the pursuit of defensible space, to how the state-led debris removal is being handled, to why goats haven’t been used to eradicate excess fuels on public land.
A great deal of community concern stemmed from the fact such a forum of agencies could include so many members.
“Get rid of the layers of bureaucracy and you will get rid of the gridlock in this basin,” said South Lake Tahoe resident, Pat Martin.
Panelists at the forum in the South Tahoe High School gym included Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons, South Lake Tahoe Mayor Kathay Lovell, and TRPA Executive Director John Singlaub.
The TRPA felt the brunt of criticism from angry citizens, although the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, the League to Save Lake Tahoe and the U.S. Forest Service could not escape the ire of some.
One attendee blamed bad communication between agencies and the public as the root of the problem, but South Lake Tahoe resident Bruce Grego took his anger over the Angora fire a step further.
“We need a locally elected TRPA governing board,” Grego said, to widespread applause. “Democracy is an illusion.”
Although agency officials were not given the opportunity to respond to the concerns brought up at the forum, Ted Gaines, the forum’s moderator and California assemblyman, has said he will present comments from the meeting to the California-Nevada Blue Ribbon Task Force being formed to investigate the Angora fire.
“You’re justified to have anger,” Gaines said at the end of the forum. “We need to look at bureaucracies. I’m going to keep a very close eye on this to make sure that we act.”
Agencies represented at Monday night forum:
— Nevada governor’s office
— City of South Lake Tahoe
— Tahoe Regional Planning Agency
— Lahontan Water Board
— Lake Valley Fire Protection District
— South Lake Tahoe Fire Department
— U.S. Forest Service
— California Tahoe Conservancy
— League to Save Lake Tahoe
— Gov. Schwarzenegger’s office of emergency services
— Board of Forestry and Fire Protection