USFS publishes Lake Tahoe forest plan objections

Tom Lotshaw

Forest Plan objections

• Stephen Alastuey, of Reno, objects to a lack of new wilderness designations.

• Jon Anderson, of South Lake Tahoe, objects to a lack of new over-snow vehicle access.

• James Miller, of Incline Village, objects to a lack of updated over-snow vehicle restrictions.

• Harold Singer, of South Lake Tahoe, objects to various aspects of the plan’s final environmental impact statement.

• Marjorie Sill, of Reno, objects to the plan’s treatment of climate change issues and provisions allowing large trees to be removed, the amount of land open to over-snow vehicles and a lack of new wilderness designations.

• Snowlands Network, Winter Wildlands Alliance and the Toiyabe Chapter of the Sierra Club object to a lack of updated over-snow vehicle restrictions and the plan’s assessment of the vehicles’ impacts.

• Tahoe Area Sierra Club objects to the plan’s lack of new wilderness designations.

• A coalition including Sierra Forest Legacy, Sierra Club, California Wilderness Coalition, Friends of the River, Defenders of Wildlife and Snowlands Network object to management strategies for the California spotted owl and Pacific marten; regulations for cutting large trees; over-snow vehicle restrictions; a lack of wilderness or Wild and Scenic River designations; and the rejection of a proposed conservation strategy.

• The Center for Biological Diversity and John Muir Project of Earth Island Institute object to forest vegetation, fuels, fire and post-fire habitat management standards they argue will harm and not protect wildlife.

For more information:

The U.S. Forest Service has published 12 formal objections to a Forest Plan that will guide management of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit for the next 15 years.

The plan is entering a 90-day objection resolution period during which USFS will work with the objectors to determine of their objections can be resolved.

Objections focus on fire fighting and fuel reduction strategies, habitat management, wildlife protection, wilderness designations and over-snow and off-highway vehicle access and restrictions.

The Forest Service chief in Washington, D.C., is overseeing the objection resolution process. Following that, the regional forester will sign a record of decision for the Forest Plan to take effect.

Only individuals or groups that commented in earlier phases of the plan’s creation could file objections related to those comments. More than 18,000 people commented on a draft Forest Plan. Considering so many views in a plan to manage 150,000 acres of public land is a “Herculean task,” some objectors acknowledge in letters to USFS.

Among the 12 objectors are area fire chiefs. Fire chiefs representing Tahoe Douglas, Meeks Bay, Lake Valley, North Lake Tahoe, North Tahoe Fire, Fallen Leaf Lake and the city of South Lake Tahoe filed a joint objection letter.

In the letter, the chiefs state they have “substantive concerns” about some of the plan’s fire fighting and fuel reduction strategies, as well as land management, fuels management and fire suppression standards that if implemented “could negatively impact lives, property and public safety.”

Heavenly Mountain Resort objects to parts of the Forest Plan, arguing they would “improperly impede” its rights to terrain inside its ski area special use permit boundary.

Heavenly points to a 200-acre cap on the increase of “operational footprint acres” of ski areas and slopes in the basin, arguing that would impact its existing special use permit rights. The Vail-owned resort also objects to creation of a special refuge area for whitebark pine in its permit and operational boundaries, arguing that conservation is better served through an existing management agreement with the Forest Service.

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