Global warming, catastrophic wildfire heats up Lake Tahoe Forum |

Global warming, catastrophic wildfire heats up Lake Tahoe Forum

Photo by Jen Schmidt/Sierra Sun news service

Preventing catastrophic wildfire and realizing the threat global warming poses to Lake Tahoe were two of the major points of discussion for the dozen speakers at the 10th annual Lake Tahoe Forum in Incline Village on Friday.

One of the first to talk, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein was among the most adamant official at the forum regarding the reduction of the Lake Tahoe Basin’s susceptibility to catastrophic wildfire.

“It is very clear to me not enough has been done to reduce that threat,” Feinstein said. “The risk of another conflagration is real, ladies and gentleman.”

Feinstein called on the forest service to work with California to develop a long-term restoration plan for the area burned by the Angora fire before the first major rain storm, said community wildfire protection plans need to be funded and implemented, and encouraged a streamlined process for forest fuels reduction.

The senator received loud applause for her comments, which included a stark warning about global warming.

Feinstein cited facts from a UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center “State of the Lake Report: 2007,” released on Wednesday, to send the message home.

Diminishing precipitation falling as snow was the most shocking aspect of the report, Feinstein said.

“We need to accept this challenge and take hold of it,” she said. “Global warming is only expected to get worse.”

California Lieutenant Gov. John Garamendi and Former President Bill Clinton also included the specter of global warming during their speeches at the forum.

Taking the stage with his typical open mouthed grin, Clinton said the basin is at the “epicenter” of the two major crises facing humanity: global warming and resource depletion.

He said how the basin deals with these problems may serve as a model for the rest of the nation, recounting his feelings following the 1997 forum to highlight his point.

The former president relayed how impressed he was about the collaboration he saw between members of the business community, environmental groups and government agencies in the basin, saying he thought “this is how America is supposed to work” following the first forum.

“I ask you to keep this process up and hold it up as a shining light,” Clinton said. “All of you who live here carry the responsibility to make the brightest and best use of this treasure for the whole world.”

The keynote speech was the best received by the crowd, but the mood of the event may have been best summed up near the beginning of the forum, during an invocation by A. Brian Wallace, former Chairman of the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California and a member of the Lake Tahoe Basin Federal Advisory Committee.

“Mother earth is a very beautiful place and worth fighting for,” Wallace said to widespread applause.

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