Raising awareness for wildfire preparedness at Tahoe; Agencies seek survey feedback
KINGS BEACH, Calif. – In recognition of National Community Wildfire Preparedness Day on Saturday, May 6, the Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team is encouraging everyone to come together to take action, raise awareness, and reduce wildfire risks.
The team is stressing the importance of wildfire preparedness throughout the year to continue protecting communities and Lake Tahoe’s environment from the increasing risk of wildfire. Lake Tahoe has seen firsthand how important it is to be prepared, and to work together to create defensible space and thin overstocked forests.
“After decades of fire suppression, the Tahoe Basin’s forests are overstocked and highly vulnerable to insects, disease and catastrophic wildfire,” said TFFT Incident Commander and North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection Division Chief Isaac Powning. “We rely on firefighters, land managers, and the public to all work together to protect our communities and ecosystem from damaging wildfires.”
In 2022, TFFT partners reduced fuels on more than 2,500 acres and completed a record 7,962 inspections to help property owners create defensible space around homes and businesses.
Along with TFFT’s work, the community has a critical role in wildfire preparedness. South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue will host the 6th annual Wildfire Safety Expo from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 13, at South Tahoe Middle School, located 2940 Lake Tahoe Boulevard in South Lake Tahoe. The Wildfire Safety Expo is a fun, free, community event to provide information on how to be fire-safe during this upcoming wildfire season.
On May 23, North Shore fire agencies will host a community wildfire preparedness workshop from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the North Lake Tahoe Event Center, 8313 N. Lake Boulevard, Kings Beach. The event will educate, inspire, and build fire-adapted communities and Firewise neighborhoods in the North Tahoe Region. Sign up here to attend or visit tinyurl.com/wildfireworkshop.
The TFFT is also urgently requesting public feedback on the Lake Tahoe Basin Community Wildfire Protection Plan survey. These plans help reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and increase the resilience of communities to natural disasters. To complete the quick survey, visit arcg.is/8zKGr0.
“This survey is an opportunity for fire districts to hear from community members about concerns and priorities related to wildfire risk reduction,” said Cheyanne Neuffer, the CWPP program coordinator at Tahoe Resource Conservation District.
Community input will help guide the update of community wildfire protection plans and ensure that they reflect the needs and values of communities in the Lake Tahoe Basin.
The Tahoe Resource Conservation District also manages the Fire Adapted Communities Program and has assisted neighborhoods throughout the region to become certified in the program.
Forest health is one of the focus areas of the Environmental Improvement Program, a partnership of over 80 public and private organizations committed to achieving the environmental goals of the region. Since the EIP’s inception in 1997, TFFT partners have treated more than 92,000 acres of forest to reduce hazardous fuels. The full list of projects is available at eip.laketahoeinfo.org.
“These fuel treatments have proven themselves invaluable. During the Caldor Fire we saw flames 150 feet tall in untreated areas that shrunk to 15 feet tall when they reached a treated area in Christmas Valley,” said Captain Martin Goldberg of Lake Valley Fire. “This meant that our firefighters could engage the fire and protect the nearby homes. If that area hadn’t been treated, we may have seen a very different outcome.”
This year, TFFT partners plan to exceed the 2,500 acres treated in 2022, especially near power lines and neighborhoods. On the East Shore, the Nevada Tahoe Resource Team will be treating about 450 acres near Marlette Lake, which will complement the work by NV Energy to create resilient corridors along NV Energy’s electrical lines on all lands.
Liberty Utilities will be doing similar resilience corridor work throughout their service area on the South Shore. Crews will be working to reduce hazardous fuels in Van Sickle Bi-State Park this summer, and South Tahoe Public Utility District will be conducting projects to protect water infrastructure in case of wildfire. The North Tahoe Fire Protection District will reduce hazardous fuels on at least 300 acres within North Tahoe and Meeks Bay Fire Protection Districts.
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