Tahoe thinning finally?

Larry Harrell lhfotoware at hotmail.com
Sat Mar 13 09:13:51 EST 2004

March 12, 2004  Reno Gazette Journal

Officials say Tahoe should be among first for federal thinning

by Jeff Delong

Lake Tahoe should be among the first places in the country to take
advantage of increased federal funding to thin overgrown forests and
prevent fiery disaster, lawmakers say.

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Tim Leslie, a California
state assemblyman, are scheduled to host a conference at Lake Tahoe
this Saturday to plan how to increase forest thinning activity there.

“My objective is to be the first one across the line,”
said Leslie, a Republican from Tahoe City. “We consider Tahoe to
be the most important area of them all.”

The focus of Saturday’s conference of fire agencies throughout
the Tahoe Basin will be how to tap into money made available through
the Healthy Forests Restoration Act, signed into law by President Bush
in late 2003.

This year, the Bush administration hopes to spend about $680 million
to thin 3.7 million acres of public land deemed particularly
vulnerable to wildfire. The Healthy Forests Restoration Act, if fully
funded by Congress, would boost spending for thinning projects in 2005
to $760 million.

Under the administration’s strategy, local communities are
supposed to prepare plans for local thinning projects, which then must
be approved by state foresters, the U.S. Forest Service or the Bureau
of Land Management, Leslie said.

During a recent visit to Washington, Leslie, a Republican, received
support from Feinstein in beginning the planning process at Tahoe, the
assemblyman said. The idea is to have a strategy prepared by August
for presentation during the annual Lake Tahoe summit, which
commemorates then-President Clinton’s 1997 visit to the lake and
intensified efforts to preserve the national treasure.

During the 1997 event, Feinstein said she was told about 30 percent of
Tahoe’s trees were dead or dying. The senator said she’s
concerned the fire danger there remains critical.

“The forests around Lake Tahoe are at risk for catastrophic
wildfire,” Feinstein said. “Wildfire in Tahoe will not
only destroy acres of beautiful forestland, but threatens the values
of Lake Tahoe we all share — the lake’s famous clarity and
other environmental features that attract visitors from all over the

Decades of costly efforts to preserve the Tahoe Basin and reverse the
continuing loss of the lake’s clarity also could be put at risk,
Leslie said.

“We’ve spent decades and millions, and one catastrophic
fire could ruin everything,” Leslie said. “We just
can’t let that happen.”

Two-thirds of the money made available through the Healthy Forests
Restoration Act is targeted for logging and controlled burning of
forested areas closest to communities. That’s directly in line
with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s No. 1 priority for
2004, said John Singlaub, the agency’s executive director.

“It fits in exactly with what we’ve been working
on,” Singlaub said. “What we’re hoping to do is get
a head start on this.”

Comment by poster: This has been long overdue for such a treasure.
Clinton promised a lot back in '97 when he visited Lake Tahoe. I did
consider staging a protest for temporary employees during his visit.
I'm sure that some of the media would've interviewed me, had I been
visible enough. I was too scared to try it, though.

Larry,   former Tahoe local and ski bum

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