Meyers skeptical about Feinstein bill |

Meyers skeptical about Feinstein bill

Douglas County isn’t alone in its reluctance to support Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Lake Tahoe Preservation Act. The community of Meyers also is troubled by the bill.

“I just don’t think we understand it enough, and I’m very concerned there will be strings attached to those dollars,” said Sue Yang, president of the Meyers Community Roundtable.

Feinstein, D-Calif., last month introduced the bill, S1192, which could change the designation of the U.S. Forest Service’s Lake Tahoe branch and bring $300 million to Tahoe over the next 10 years. Supporters say the money won’t be accompanied by more regulations.

However, some – most vocally, commissioners from Douglas County – fear the designation could bring more levels of government to an already government-full Lake Tahoe.

Meyers residents recently have expressed some concerns. The community roundtable – which has no authority but makes recommendations to the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors – wants to discuss the issue at its next meeting, which is scheduled for Sept. 15. And Meyers residents want Forest Service officials and others knowledgeable of the legislation to attend.

“We need to know what all the issues are, so we can understand it better,” Yang said. “I think it’s foolish for any resident of the basin to take a stand without knowing what all the facts are.”

Mary Lou Mossbacher, who owns a small farm in Christmas Valley, said she is concerned because she and many of her neighbors live in sensitive areas. The bill, she believes, may put them in danger of losing their land.

“We are concerned about a number of things in the Feinstein Bill. Primarily, it talks about money being given to local governments, and they would be able to purchase land in Stream Environment Zones and return it to its original condition and give it to the Forest Service. A lot of us live out here in environmentally sensitive areas,” Mossbacher said.

“It doesn’t say they couldn’t (buy the property without the owner wanting to sell it). If it said ‘willing seller,’ we would all feel protected. We want to see some kind of safeguards are put into that resolution to keep us from being forced out of our homes.”

Supporters of the bill, however, think those fears are without merit.

“There’s nothing in the bill that talks about condemnation of private property. Absolutely nothing,” said Steve Teshara of the Lake Tahoe Transportation and Water Quality Coalition. “I’m aware some people are spreading that rumor; it’s simply not fact.”

Juan Palma, forest supervisor of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, said the act should not change the current acquisition policy beyond proving more money for it.

“The policy we have now is ‘willing seller; willing buyer,'” he said. “We do not condemn any property.”

Feinstein’s bill proposes to change the Forest Service’s designation from the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit to the Lake Tahoe National Scenic Forest and Recreation Area.

Additionally, the bill would authorize $20 million annually for the Forest Service to implement environmental restoration projects, and another $10 million would go to other local political entities for environmental projects.

Sens. Harry Reid, D-Nev.; Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; and Richard Bryan, D-Nev., are co-sponsors of the bill. No equivalent to S1192 has been introduced into the House of Representatives.

However, U.S. Rep. John Doolittle, R-Calif., is interested in the possibility, but he, too, has some concerns.

“He recently met with Sen. Feinstein, and they both share the desire to work those differences out,” said Richard Robinson, spokesman for Doolittle. “I think if the congressman and senator can work out some of those differences, he certainly would be interested in (authoring a House bill). Both Congressman Doolittle and Sen. Feinstein are interested in seeing a bill that will help Lake Tahoe signed into law this year.”

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