Breaking down $29.5 million in Lake Tahoe fuels projects | SierraSun.com

Breaking down $29.5 million in Lake Tahoe fuels projects

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The U.S. Department of the Interior announced Aug. 31 it would set aside $29.5 million for hazardous fuel reduction to help limit wildfire risk within the Lake Tahoe Basin.

The funding was announced ahead of the 20th annual Lake Tahoe Summit, which included speeches from President Barack Obama and California Gov. Jerry Brown, among others, on the importance of preserving Lake Tahoe.

"I think what's special about this funding is that it's for a collective effort," Forest Schafer, a forester for the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, said in an interview after the summit.

The money comes from the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act, or SNPLMA, which was adopted in 1998 and outlines specific uses for the revenue from the sale of public lands.

One of those uses is the funding of environmental restoration projects, along with multi-jurisdictional hazardous fuel reduction programs within the Tahoe Basin.

The multi-jurisdictional part is key, since fire is managed by so many different agencies around Lake Tahoe.

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"We're not competing with each other for this money," Schafer said, "We're working together to figure out what the best use for this money is."

There are nine hazardous fuel reduction projects that have been approved for the $29.5 million.

The NLTFPD (serving Incline Village), U.S. Forest Service, Tahoe Resource Conservation District, Carson City Fire Department, California Tahoe Conservancy and Lake Valley Fire Protection District each have projects that have been approved.

NLTFPD's project, which will cost $973,250, includes reduction of hazardous fuels around Incline Village, as well as outreach efforts to educate on citizens on living with fire.

"Wildland fire is a part of Sierra Nevada ecosystems, and we spent years trying to figure out how to put them out," Schafer said.

"By suppressing those fires we have had a huge impact on our forested ecosystem," he said, adding that the projects to remove things like dead trees mimic the role that fire played previously.

In another project, the Forest Service will remove hazardous fuel around Carnelian Bay, Incline Village and areas along the South Shore. This project, which will cover 6,300 acres of federal land, will receive $10.3 million.

TRCD's project to increase wildfire preparedness, through creating a network of "Fire Adapted Communities," will receive $5.8 million for outreach programs.

"Rather than focusing on controlling fires when they happen, this funding helps adapt communities and the ecosystem around us to better live with wildfire," Schafer said.

The Conservancy's project to remove hazardous fuels on up to 1,800 acres in Placer and El Dorado counties will receive $6.8 million.

And in another project, the CTC and Forest Service were approved $7.1 million for a joint environmental analysis to ultimately restore 80,000 acres on the California side of the Tahoe Basin.

Additional projects include fuel reduction efforts on the South Shore and environmental analysis reports of sections of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest to aid future hazardous fuel reduction efforts.

More online

Visit blm.gov/nv/st/en/snplma.html to read more about SNPLMA.