Project leader will be grateful when dead wood is gone |

Project leader will be grateful when dead wood is gone

Frank Moffett, executive director of The Sugar Pine Project, inspects a stand of dead trees on the edge of Prey Meadows in Slaughterhouse Canyon on Tuesday.

Frank Moffet is a multitasker who wears rose-colored glasses and did graphic design work for the Grateful Dead in the 1970s.

He is also someone who helped get forest officials in Nevada and California to take a serious look at how much dead wood needs to be pulled out of the Lake Tahoe Basin to prevent a catastrophic forest fire.

On Tuesday, a pest control man appeared at his door at the same time he was explaining to a reporter what a great fire danger Slaughterhouse Canyon poses to Glenbrook, a gated community where his family has lived since 1864.

Moffet handled both situations fluidly, leaving the reporter and the mouse catcher at ease. He hopes to make the 1,200 residents of Glenbrook and forest officials feel the same way about clearing the dead wood from Slaughterhouse Canyon, which adjoins Glenbrook.

“We’ve done nothing but encourage cooperation between the state and the federal government,” said Moffet, his red-tinted lenses reflecting end of summer sun. “Without any acrimony, we saw this powder keg sitting here.”

Moffet is executive director of the Sugar Pine Project, a group of Tahoe residents formed in 2001 that wants to see dead wood cleared out of the canyon. The group wants the work project — a collaboration of Glenbrook residents, the U.S. Forest Service and the Nevada Division of Forestry — to act as a pilot project for the rest of the basin.

Moffet said his “sense of environmental consciousness” was awakened two years ago as he did research for a history book to be called “Glenbrook.” He expects the photo-heavy book to be published next year.

With his newfound passion, he formed the group, named for the sugar pine, a species of tree that grows at Slaughterhouse. Since then it has raised about $50,000 through dinners and concerts to promote its cause.

In August 2001, the Sugar Pine Project took a huge stride toward its goal by roping in Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn and the chief of the U.S. Forest Service Dale Bosworth and other officials to take a walk into Slaughterhouse Canyon.

They were in town for the Lake Tahoe Environmental Summit, an event organized in the wake of the 1997 Presidential Forum.

Almost exactly a year after the impromptu tour of the canyon, the Forest Service released the Lake Tahoe Basin Fuels and Vegetation Management Review. It states that much work needs to be done and the basin needs to do it at a faster pace than it has been doing it.

The review also calls for an action plan. Dave Marlow, U.S. Forest Service vegetation and fuels officer at the basin, said he and forest Supervisor Maribeth Gustafson are working on the plan and it will be delivered soon.

Moffet said he believes the report is a sign that things are moving in the right direction.

“I think it made a major step toward addressing the problem,” Moffet said. “We feel real positive with all the public support and awareness.”

Moffet then went back to explaining how his back deck makes a great dance floor for fund-raisers. One day, he said, he might organize a fund-raising concert and get his friend, Bob Weir, once a member of the Grateful Dead, to play.

— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or

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