Feinstein leads Tahoe summit | SierraSun.com

Feinstein leads Tahoe summit

Alanna Lungren

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is billed to lead the 2005 Lake Tahoe Presidential Forum at Commons Beach on Aug. 21. In its ninth year, the gathering of California and Nevada federal and state representatives on Lake Tahoe’s shore signals a call for continued awareness and concern for the main issues around the lake. Anticipating the political summit are numerous Tahoe Basin agencies, local officials and residents.In 1997, President Bill Clinton and Vice-President Al Gore put Lake Tahoe on the map for environmental concern. Each ensuing year, the forum maintains that Lake Tahoe stay on the national agenda for environmental monies. This year’s event will see attendance by Nevada Sens. Republican John Ensign and Democrat Harry Reid.Though an official schedule has not been released yet for the forum, planned are three panels on wildfire, water quality and Pathway 2007, a roadmap for the future of Lake Tahoe’s social, economic and environmental planning.

Feinstein spoke at a forum on wildfire in South Shore in March of 2004, challenging fire districts in the basin to create a community wildfire protection plan. North Tahoe Fire Chief, Duane Whitelaw, explained how necessary the creation of these plans were, in advancing toward receiving the dollars needed to implement the plans. According to Jennifer Arrowsmith of the Tahoe Basin Fire Council, the community wildfire protection plans consist of “threat assessment documents and mitigation projects.”Whitelaw remarked that “the neat thing about the fire plans and the funding that comes with it, is that not only forest land, owned by the state,” will receive funds, “there are opportunities for private landowners to secure matching funds.”Whitelaw offered the example of the Chinquapin Homeowners Association and its fuel reduction plan. The “North Tahoe Fire District secured matching funds, where monies were made available by Placer County with the aid of Supervisor Bruce Kranz.” The association worked on removing forest fuel on the east side of Dollar Hill. “The fire issue is of particular importance to me,” said Kranz. “I applaud the Senator for putting high priority on wildfire in the basin. If we don’t stop catastophic wildfire, it doesn’t make a difference, it won’t keep Tahoe blue.”

Of the $500,000 in funds previously secured from the federal government, both Feinstein and U.S. Representative Doolittle were “very instrumental in making that happen,” said Whitelaw.Among local agencies anticipating the forum is the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. Communications Director, Julie Regan, commented that the forum is an “opportunity to step back, reflect and look ahead.”

The TRPA is a partner of Pathway 2007 which is a key issue on the planning panel. Other partners of Pathway 2007 are the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, USDA Forest Service and the Center for Collaborative Policy. Both the North Tahoe Fire District and the TRPA, among others, are looking forward to the announcements Feinstein will make, whether it is the releasing of more funds for fire districts to mitigate forest fuel, or for elected officials to comment on the future plans for Lake Tahoe.Kranz welcomes Feinstein to Placer County and remarked that “having both senators from Nevada, and Feinstein, is huge, these are people that can make a difference on a federal level.” It is clear that financial support for Lake Tahoe’s preservation is needed, and continues to be brought to attention at the federal level by this annual forum and by committed elected officials.