Officials: Rules must be changed for Basin fuels management |

Officials: Rules must be changed for Basin fuels management

Dan Thrift/Sun News Service file photoLuke Anderson, left, and Mike Mosca, both from Lake Valley Fire Protection District, survey the Angora Fire area while making patrols on Heather Circle shortly after firefighters contained the devastating blaze. The governors of Nevada and California have appointed a blue-ribbon commission to examine forest safety in the Tahoe Basin.

INCLINE VILLAGE ” With Tahoe forests characterized as a “tinderbox,” Tahoe Basin fire chiefs pleaded Friday to the Blue Ribbon fire commission for relaxed rules on fuels management.

After hearing a day’s worth of reports, the California-Nevada Tahoe Basin Fire Commission stopped short of asking for a gubernatorial emergency declaration for the basin as was slated on the agenda. Sig Rogich, the Nevada co-chair of the bi-state committee, noted that there was not enough time to debate the merits of calling for an emergency declaration until the next meeting.

However, the need was stressed throughout the day at the Chateau in Incline Village.

Nevada State Forester Pete Anderson characterized the basin as a “tinderbox,” as he delivered a presentation about the health, or lack thereof of the basin’s forests.

“What we’re seeing is a problem right now. We can’t get biomass out of the forests in a sufficient manner,” Anderson said. “We have a forest-health crisis, and hand-crew work is excellent but very slow. We need better access to the forests to get the biomass out that is cleared for defensible space. We turned our back on forestry … if the forests aren’t thinned properly the basin is at a higher risk of fire.”

The seven fire chiefs in the basin submitted a letter for the commission to review that calls for several Tahoe Regional Planning Agency rules to be relaxed or abandoned. It contained nine points for better fuels management in the basin, including a repeal of any Tahoe Regional Planning Agency ordinance that conflicted with defensible space guidelines.

“I feel the majority of (the points) will be passed. I feel good about where we’re going with this,” said Incline Village’s Fire Chief Mike Brown.

In an interview last week, TRPA spokeswoman Julie Regan said that TRPA is willing to compromise with the basin fire chiefs.

“We’re open to changes as far as these recommendations are involved…We think that people who are already adhering to our ordinances can take that opportunity to create defensible space at the same time; the two should go hand-in-hand. We are certainly open to working with the commission to keep the area safe,” Regan said.

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