Regreen to get busy, funding
With the stubborn, belated departure of El Nino, clearing excess fire hazards throughout the Tahoe Basin has become a top priority for many public and private organizations.
Tahoe Regreen is comprised of members from approximately 30 different agencies, including the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the U.S. Forest Service, the League to Save Lake Tahoe, and local fire protection districts. The organization is determined to reduce the fuel load before it is too late.
“The Tahoe Basin is overstocked,” said Karen Terrill, information officer with California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and member of Tahoe Regreen. “There are places that are 10 times above the stock level for that particular environment, so the best thing to do is thin and revegetate the area.”
The goal is to remove the excess fuel load, such as dead trees, logs and branches.
Areas of concern have been designated and prioritized by Tahoe Regreen. Several sites have been deemed “high-hazard” and will be cleared of excess fuel loads in the next few months. In the nine Tahoe Regreen geographical areas that encompass the basin, a No. 1 priority zone will be targeted. Currently, Tahoe Regreen employees and volunteers are clearing an area in the upper Truckee region, one alongside Pioneer Trail in South Lake Tahoe and one in Zephyr Cove.
“Basically, we sat down with the agencies involved last winter and determined the amount of dead and dying trees and the fuel loads,” said Brian Schafer, assistant fire chief with the Lake Valley Fire Protection District and the operations chief with Tahoe Regreen. “We came up with a plan that will take us through this year.”
He said he wasn’t sure if there will be funding for all projects, but if Sen. Tim Leslie, R-Tahoe City, gets his way, Tahoe Regreen will soon be getting $100,000 in additional funds.
“If these trees are not cleared soon, these conditions may lead to a catastrophic wildfire, which will destroy hundreds to thousands of acres of forest and property, threaten the economy for years to come and damage the quality and clarity of Lake Tahoe itself,” Leslie said.
Leslie, who helped start Tahoe Regreen, requested the funding to included in the California budget, which is two weeks overdue.
“Each member gets one request for funding for a worthwhile project within the district,” said Dave Butler, district (Placer County) representative. “Leslie has been involved (with Tahoe Regreen) since the beginning, and the bottom line is there are all these dead and dying trees in Lake Tahoe area and something has to be done about it.”
While the budget is being finalized, Tahoe Regreen will continue to work on projects in the basin. However, the funding is very much being sought by members of Tahoe Regreen.
“It’s incredible,” said George Osborne, CDF unit chief and a Tahoe Regreen member. “Normally, we have to go through a budget process in order to get things done. We will be hard pressed if it doesn’t pass. We are making sure everyone and their brother is contacting the governor and telling him how important this is.”
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