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Workshop looks at forests

Andy Bourelle

A statewide workshop focusing on the framework of the U.S. Forest Service’s management of the Sierra Nevada will be held this Saturday in Sacramento. Based on a Lake Tahoe meeting Tuesday, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Forest Supervisor Juan Palma will have some focused comments to make.

“We have to make sure the work going on here in Tahoe that we’re committed to continues,” Palma said. “I think that’s the message I keep hearing over and over.”

About 30 people attended a special meeting of the Lake Tahoe Transportation and Water Quality Coalition Wednesday to discuss current issues being addressed by the U.S. Forest Service.

Currently, numerous public workshops are being held throughout the Sierra Nevada to give public input to the Forest Service regarding the 10 forests comprising the California’s defining mountain range, in which the forest service is including the LTBMU.

With two new reports completed by the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station, officials are looking at establishing a framework for the whole Sierra.

Many of the meeting’s attendees expressed reservations that Lake Tahoe being a part of that process might hinder efforts already under way in the basin.

“This whole process should not slow down,” said Rochelle Nason, executive director of the League to Save Lake Tahoe and co-chair of the Lake Tahoe Transportation and Water Quality Coalition.

Duane Wallace, executive director of the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce, said he felt Lake Tahoe currently is “ahead of the curve” and may take “three giant steps back” to be involved.

Others indicated that Lake Tahoe was a special area and should not be considered the same as the rest of the national forests in the Sierra.

Based on previous situations of collaboration with the forest service, some people at the meeting expressed concerns that their efforts might be ignored.

While Palma and U.S. Forest Service Aquatic Ecologist Joseph Furnish, who will be working on the framework, said they could not guarantee Tahoe input would be listened to, they said they would do their best to make local input considered.

“I’m here to listen to what you have to say, and I’m going to try to include that into the process,” Furnish said. “We’re honestly not trying to make this a charade.”

The information in two new reports completed by the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station as well as public input from the numerous workshops throughout the Sierra Nevada, will be used by the forest service.

Although the statewide workshop is next week and more local workshops still are being held, the proposal for the plan will be published Oct. 30. A 60-day public comment period will be held, and a draft environmental impact statement will be prepared in February, followed by another 90-day comment period.

The final Environmental Impact Statement is scheduled for July 30, 1999, and several members of the public said the process was going too quickly for such a large all-encompassing document.

“You’ll have a much better outcome if you have more process to get everyone’s point of view,” said Dennis Machida, executive director of the California Tahoe Conservancy.

Palma said he would pass the feelings of the public on to the forest service officials making the decision.

“I make a commitment to you to explain, in my own way, your feelings in this process,” he said.

Local community workshops for public input regarding the management directions for the National Forests in the Sierra Nevada.

n Oct. 6; formal workshop, 2 to 5 p.m.; drop-in workshop, 5 to 7 p.m.

Lakeview Room, Fairway Community Center

330 Fairway Drive

Tahoe City

n Oct. 8; formal workshop, 2 to 5 p.m.; drop-in workshop, 5 to 7 p.m.

Western Nevada Community College

2201 West College Parkway

Carson City

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