Our View: Less TRPA, more local fire agencies
While the snow falls lightly over the Tahoe Basin and the heat of summer’s fires are but a memory, it is a good time to brainstorm ideas on how to better protect our pristine environment from the ravages of wildfires.
The California-Nevada Tahoe Basin Fire Commission is doing just that.
At Friday’s commission meeting in South Lake Tahoe, an idea was further discussed which was first hatched this summer by Sens. Dianne Feinstein, (D-Calif.; Harry Reid, D-Nev.; and John Ensign, R-Nev. The three came up with the idea of declaring a state of emergency because of the basin’s wildfire threat on their way to the Lake Tahoe Forum after viewing the damage from the Angora fire.
This is a good idea, considering that Lake Tahoe is considered a national treasure, and millions of federal, state and local money have been invested to keep it that way.
A wildfire in the Tahoe Basin threatens much more than even homes and forests – it threatens years of environmental work accomplished with a huge price tag; the homes and businesses of Tahoe residents who endure stringent environmental regulations on their livelihoods and lifestyles; the political muscle and compromise that has created a delicate balance of ecosystem and economy; and the famed clarity of Lake Tahoe itself.
A state of emergency would streamline wildfire prevention processes and help with funding for fire prevention and defensible space.
A second proposal was discussed on Friday as well. This was the possibility of changing the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s compact to include fire prevention as an agency priority.
This idea should be nipped in the bud.
The TRPA does not need to be involved in fire prevention for the Tahoe Basin. Yes, the TRPA needs to modify its ordinances ” as it has been doing this fall ” to make it easier for property owners to accomplish defensible space. But, the leadership of creating defensible space and the enforcement of defensible space should rest only with our local fire districts. Even expanding the charter of the California-Nevada Tahoe Basin Fire Commission is possibly a good idea, but do not give TRPA this mission.
TRPA finds itself in controversy when it leaves its initial mission – to preserve the clarity of Lake Tahoe. Keep TRPA to its compact, and let the fire districts do what they know best.
In fact, TRPA is considering an ordinance that would allow more trained professionals to conduct defensible space inspections. These people would be designated by local fire agencies.
This is the direction to proceed – less control for TRPA, and more control for local fire agencies.
Put this concept into action while the snow flies this winter, so we are ready when the sun shines this summer.