Fire Commission wants emergency declared in Tahoe | SierraSun.com

Fire Commission wants emergency declared in Tahoe

Jeff Munson
Sun News Service

The commission established to look into June’s Angora fire unanimously agreed on dozens of recommendations Friday and will ask the Bush administration to declare a state of emergency for the Lake Tahoe Basin.

The emergency request move would allow for federal funding to prevent future catastrophic wildfire. A five-year emergency plan has been estimated at $7.8 million.

The commission sent dozens of recommendations to the governors of California and Nevada after a series of meetings beginning in August.

The call for federal and state intervention was unanimous, before the group voted on at least 70 other recommendations. The group’s unanimous agreement sets in motion a number of measures aimed at protecting life, property and the environment.

The California-Nevada Tahoe Basin Fire Commission had expressed disagreement on a number of items in the 192-page document but poised themselves to be unified in the final recommendations to the governors.

The plan will now move to a 30-day public review before reaching the governors desks.

Among the recommendations in the plan, the document addresses a re-prioritization of forestry practices in the Lake Tahoe Basin and the means to pay for them.

Some 70-plus recommendations includes strong language, including changes in several policies on the books when it comes to the management of dead and dying timber, the removal of trees, and how to attack a forest fire once it starts.

As witnessed by June’s Angora fire, which burned 3,072 acres, destroyed 254 homes and cost $140 million in property damage, the commission states there is a clear and imminent threat of wildfire in the Lake Tahoe Basin, and with that there is an urgent need to streamline policies that often conflict with one another.

“It’s been hard thought and hard fought,” Commissioner Patrick Wright told the panel as it wrestled with how and where to place policies and recommendations on the document.

Among Friday’s accomplishments, the commission:

– Directs agencies and property owners to implement fuel reduction projects to minimize fire risk.

– Wants created a single information clearinghouse on fuel reductions.

– Recommends state and federal emergency declarations.

– Directs agencies to simplify permitting systems.

– Wants an update agency of MOUs and agreements.

– Directed agencies to agree on consistent defensible space regulations.

– Recommends uniform building standards throughout the basin.

– Embraces the 10-year fuels treatment plan.

– Supports biomass infrastructure development in the basin.

– Recommends policy that prioritizes life, property and the environment ” in this order.