Other Voices: Getting past the blame game
Criticism was directed, once again, at the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency this week by Nevada’s Legislative Committee for Review and Oversight of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.
Sen. Mark Amodei, R-Carson City, TRPA board members Coe Swobe, a former Nevada State senator from Reno, and Carson Supervisor Shelly Aldean, said that the bistate agency isn’t acting quickly enough to reduce red tape blocking fire prevention efforts.
TRPA’s Executive Director John Singlaub admitted that changing the rules isn’t happening as fast as some people want, while on the other hand, Aldean admitted that one result of the Angora fire is “a pretty significant culture change at the agency.”
The TRPA has been a scapegoat for every ill of the Tahoe Basin for so long that those who work there must just resign themselves to being the “bad guys.” We agree that it needs legislative oversight.
However, it is simplistic to say that all the woes of the Basin are the fault of the TRPA, which has to work under a federal compact that can only be changed by Congress.
There is the behemoth bureaucracy in the U.S. Forest Service, which marches to the beat of a different drummer and manages most of the land in the Tahoe Basin. There is the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, which is unafraid of using its political muscle in California. There are numerous state and federal regulations that, for example, determine when controlled burns can be done (for air quality), or if a buoy can be sunk, whether a bicycle trail can be built under a goshawk nest, among so many other rules and issues.
Because the TRPA’s environmental improvement plans touch upon so many areas of the Basin, and because it has planning authority, it becomes the scapegoat. However, if the Nevada Legislative Committee for Review and Oversight of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency really wants the regulatory culture to be different for forest health, then the effort has to be more encompassing.
The Bistate Blue Ribbon Fire Commission is considering asking the states to declare an emergency, which would be able to set aside the many and varied regulations that hinder efforts to create defensible space, and even allow more funding to flow to Tahoe. This is a good idea, and would affect not only the TRPA, but other state and federal agencies as well.
Pointing the finger at the TRPA in the middle of the bureaucratic mess that is Lake Tahoe politics is just that.
Pointing a finger, but not solving a problem.
The Legislative Committee for Review and Oversight should support the effort to declare a bistate emergency, along with the rest of the basin that would like to pin the blame on the TRPA.
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