Projects proposed for federal dollars; Forest Service: Next funding round should focus on fire reduction |

Projects proposed for federal dollars; Forest Service: Next funding round should focus on fire reduction

Andrew Pridgen

Incline Lake, seen here with Lake Tahoe, was acquired this year by the federal government through the sale of public land in Southern Nevada. / Emma Garrard / North Lake Tahoe Bonanza

INCLINE VILLAGE – With some $40 million coming into the basin for land and watershed improvement projects and more than $70 million for acquisition of some 770 acres of Incline Lake, the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act Round 6 represents the biggest single round of federal money infused into the basin.

Round 7, while it may not eclipse Round 6 in the sheer dollars to the basin, should “definitely be interesting,” one U.S. Forest Service official said.

The Forest Service, when soliciting ideas for proposals for the act’s Round 7 last fall said projects should focus on three major areas:

— Watershed restoration and habitat improvement;

— Fuels reduction and forest health;

— Water quality improvement/erosion.

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While proposed projects eligible for Round 7 are to be fleshed out in the months of March and April by Tahoe agencies and landowners, one thing those in the basin should look forward to seeing more of is fuels reduction – programs that see the basin already establishing regional and national standards.

“We’re just getting going with (fuels) reduction and projects that will really help the watershed,” said Forest Service spokesman Rex Norman. “I think we’re starting to get a handle on the kinds of tangible projects that will make both immediate and long-term impact(s).”

The Forest Service has constraints on the types of projects it can introduce for acquisition of funds as well as the type of property it can manage once federally acquired.

To address those concerns, Forest Service officials said the funding process determines whether the buying parcel of land is a good fit.

“I think (people) have to remember that any acquisition goes through a long process before it gets funded,” Norman said, using the 3.5-acre lakefront parcel owned by local developer Dale Denio as an example of proposed parcels for acquisition that do not meet the final funding criteria.

The Denio property, originally slated for acquisition under Round 6 was taken off the funding plan in February by Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton.

“It’s a long, comprehensive, intensive process,” Norman said. “Not something anyone takes lightly.”

Forest Service officials could not say when, exactly all Round 7 projects would be announced, but they did note that some of the larger basin fuels management and BMP projects could “roll over” funding into the next round.

“For some of the bigger areas, the more we get done, the more we discover there is to do,” Norman said.