Old-growth may get new regs | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Old-growth may get new regs

Emily Aughinbaugh

New regulations to preserve and increase old-growth forests in the Lake Tahoe Basin may be approved this week.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Governing Board will consider passing amendments to TRPA’s vegetation threshold, code, and goals and policies concerning the management of old-growth forest.

The advisory planning committee scrutinized the proposed amendments for hours at its last meeting, passing the old-growth baton onto the Governing Board with a few minor changes in the ordinance language. The session was just a glimpse into the more than five-year struggle to gain consensus on old-growth policy.

Only about 5 percent of the Tahoe Basin’s forest is classified as old-growth. The goal of the new plan is to attain and maintain 55 percent of the total forest in an old-growth state.

How to achieve that goal, however, has been a point of contention between private land owners and environmental watchdogs.

The plan to achieve the 55 percent threshold was drafted by TRPA staff and the Forest Health Consensus Group, made up of private land owners, environmentalists and forest management agencies.

The proposed ordinance would prohibit chopping of trees more than 30 inches in diameter in the westside forest and greater than 24 inches in the eastside. However, there are a few exemptions, and the private land owners have expressed their economic need to also be exempt from the chopping prohibition.

J.B. Lukemberry, the largest private land owner in the basin, said the new ordinance would just add an extra layer of regulation on top of stringent rules that are already in place by the TRPA and California Department of Forestry.

However, Sierra Club officials said they would not support any plan that exempted private landowners from the chopping ban.

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