Editorial: Fire commission’s draft report is well worth the effort
After deliberating for eight months, the California-Nevada Tahoe Basin Fire Commission has recommended 70 measures to help reduce the Lake Tahoe Basin’s vulnerability to wildfire. The recommendations are compiled in the commission’s 192-page draft fire report that came out this week.
Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger formed the commission shortly after last summer’s Angora fire, which charred 3,100 acres, destroyed 254 homes and caused more than $140 million in property damage.
According to the draft report, the commission spent some time analyzing the Angora fire itself, but concentrated mostly on “the efforts that had gone into preparing for the inevitable wildfires, wherever and whenever they might occur in the basin.”
All together, 120 proposed findings and nearly 200 recommendations were submitted by basin residents, fire professionals, land managers, environmental regulators, scientists and others.
Commissioners culled through the draft report Thursday and are finalizing their recommendations Friday. After a 30-day public comment period, the commission will forward the final recommendations to the state’s governors for action.
Given the complexity of the wildfire issues facing the Tahoe Basin and the number of organizations charged with implementing changes, it’s critical the commission’s final recommendations are straightforward, devoid of overly bureaucratic language and realistic.
At first reading, commissioners have succeeded for the most part in doing this, though many of the recommendations are open to wide interpretation. But some hit the nail on the head.
Here’s one in particular: “The regulatory and implementing agencies in the Lake Tahoe Basin must simplify the existing system for permitting fuel-reduction projects. Specific actions are identified that must be taken to streamline planning, implementation and monitoring of fuel-reduction projects.”
That puts the onus on the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, the U.S. Forest Service and other local, state and federal agencies to figure out how best to work together and achieve results.
That won’t be easy, but it’s crucial to the future safety of the area.
Overall, the draft report is an impressive document, outlining both recommendations and findings in sometimes blunt language. That’s refreshing and illuminating.
Now, let’s implement the recommendations.