Pine needle ‘sticking point’ is resolved |

Pine needle ‘sticking point’ is resolved

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the Lake Tahoe Basin fire chiefs have reached agreement on whether pine needles can be used for erosion control ” the final point of a letter sent from the chiefs to the agency regarding defensible space.

The letter included nine points where the TRPA could amend its best management practices to better fit with defensible space.

It was generated by the seven basin fire chiefs for the Bistate Blue Ribbon Commission after the Angora fire last July.

The TRPA already has agreed to eight of the September 2007 letter’s points and finally have reached agreement on the letter’s No. 4 point, which is concerned with ground coverage.

The sticking point of coverage centered around pine needles.

The needles offer a valuable erosion-control tool in the fall by protecting soil from runoff. Conversely, dry needles present a fire hazard.

The TRPA and basin chiefs have agreed on an alternative which both say is fire-safe and addresses erosion control.

“Basically, the new TRPA best management practice will be to have residents remove pine needles once in the spring. This will get that dead vegetation up off of the ground for fire season,” said Martin Goldberg, a forestry supervisor with the Lake Valley Fire Protection District in South Lake Tahoe. He said the new practice is applicable to the 5- to 30-foot area around a home.

TRPA spokesman Dennis Oliver said the final point is expected to be approved at the next bistate commission meeting March 6.

Goldberg is a member of the defensible space and best management practices working group. The group was charged with deciding what to do about the coverage point of the nine-point letter.

“This was the last sticking point in the letter; we’re glad we got past it,” Oliver said.

Oliver said most of the letter’s points required only minor adjustments from TRPA’s best management practices. TRPA approved eight of the points last October.

“Most of the points were only minor clarifications, so people would not be confused about possibly violating our BMPs,” he said.

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