A plan’s in place, now action is needed to reduce fire danger at Slaughterhouse Canyon | TahoeDailyTribune.com

A plan’s in place, now action is needed to reduce fire danger at Slaughterhouse Canyon

Coe Swobe

Slaughterhouse Canyon, near Glenbrook on Lake Tahoe’s East Shore, is loaded with forest fuels and is a catastrophic wildfire waiting to happen. Over the past years, many plans were made to remove the fuels, but they all failed because of lack of finance, lack of access or lack of unified support from Glenbrook residents.

Then in 2001, Charles Goldman, director of the Tahoe Research Group, wrote: “Slaughterhouse Canyon is capable of fueling a catastrophic fire which could sweep the entire east side of the basin or even engulf a significant portion of the entire watershed surrounding this fragile sub-Alpine lake.”

At about the same time, then-Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn became alarmed and provided the leadership to formulate a plan to remove the forest fuels through the upper canyon on the old railroad grade onto Highway 28. Under the plan and agreement between Guinn, Terri Marceron, director of the U.S. Forest Service, Alan Biaggi, director of the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, Pam Wilcox and Dave Morrow of the Nevada State Parks, the U.S. Forest Service would rehabilitate the old railroad grade and existing forest service roads for access, and then the forest service and Nevada State Parks would remove the fuels and thin the forests in their respective jurisdictions, and the plan would begin in summer 2007.

In May of this year, Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons endorsed the plan. Also in May the forest service submitted its comprehensive application which had been long in preparation to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to obtain the necessary permits to implement the agreement in anticipation of getting on with rehabilitating the old railroad grade in July.

Finally there is a program in place to eliminate the danger of a Slaughterhouse Canyon catastrophic fire. Hopefully, with the U.S. Forest Services’ comprehensive application and the TRPA having the avoidance of catastrophic wildfire as its No. 1 priority, the needed permits will be issued in June and work can actually begin in July.

The project is not only extremely important to Glenbrook and the east side of the basin, but to Incline, which is only a few miles away, and to Carson City, Minden and Gardnerville, which are downwind and just over the mountain from any catastrophic fire in Slaughterhouse Canyon.

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Hopefully, this well-planned program will not get bogged down in some bureaucratic maze or technicality, which all too often happens to matters concerning Lake Tahoe.

If you agree that this project should be instituted immediately, please contact the appropriate state, county and TRPA officials and convey your appreciation and concern.

– Coe Swobe is a Reno resident and a member of the governing board of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.