TRPA takes issue with statements in the Tribune |

TRPA takes issue with statements in the Tribune

Jerry Wells, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency

At its July meeting, members of the Governing Board of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency expressed an interest in doing everything possible to assist land management agencies in fuel management and in planning for the reduction of biomass in the basin’s forests. The board wants to step up efforts that will make our forests and communities fire safe. TRPA has never had any intent to be, nor did we ever say that we would be, in the business of fighting fires.

Recent references in the Tahoe Daily Tribune relating to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency becoming “the supreme overseer of firefighting” have been erroneous.

For more than 10 years, many groups within the Lake Tahoe Basin have been actively involved in addressing the fire threat issue. The U.S. Forest Service, local fire districts and fire departments, fire safe councils and the Forest Planning Group are all putting a great deal of energy into addressing the problem. These groups are the leaders in fire hazard reduction; TRPA works in coordination with them.

At the July Governing Board meeting, local environmental groups also expressed a willingness to look at different treatments for the removal of trees from the urban interface zone. Some of the things the board is discussing are the accessibility and topography problems associated with fuel reduction work, the importance of private landowner involvement in fuel management and changes in philosophy over removal of fuels. We are even looking at the feasibility of setting up a pilot program in the basin to use fuels removed from the forest to generate electricity.

We also want to work with local groups to educate property owners about the steps they can take to reduce the risk of fire on their property.

TRPA does not have an interest in “(becoming) the basin’s fire authority” or in “regulating firefighting activity” as your newspaper has misstated.

TRPA recognizes and respects the authority and expertise of land mangers in the basin, including local fire districts, fire departments, and the U.S. Forest Service. We want to work in cooperation with these groups to accelerate and streamline fuel reduction in the Lake Tahoe Basin. One of the primary goals of the land management agencies in the basin is to create a healthy forest, and as a result of that, fire-safe communities.

— Jerry Wells is acting executive director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. He may be reached at (775) 588-4547, ext. 303.

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