With memories of a summer filled with smokey skies and raging fires, residents throughout Lake Tahoe are fully-focused on efforts to keep summers like last year in the past and never to return.
Recently, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPS) Governing Board approved new policies to expedite forest revitalization programs throughout the High Sierra. In a recent press release, they announced their plans – with the most aggressive change focusing on the change in policies about ‘ground-based’ mechanical equipment (bulldozers, etc.). As the story noted:
The decision expands the areas where ground-based mechanical equipment can be used on steep slopes. The new policy will promote forest and ecosystem resilience to disturbances such as climate change, the agency said today.
Steep terrain can be more difficult and resource-intensive for land managers to reduce hazardous forest fuels. Prior to the update, Lake Tahoe agencies could use ground-based mechanical equipment on slopes up to a 30 percent gradient, while work on steeper slopes was limited to hand crews, pile burning, and aerial logging to protect water quality from potential erosion.
TRPA Executive Director Joanne S. Marchetta said, “The Caldor Fire and the surge of megafires in the region are clear directives for us to improve our forest health policies to better protect communities and the environment from wildfire. TRPA is committed to advancing science-based practices that protect the lake and bolster our resilience to ever-growing wildfire threats, especially given the need for fuels reduction work in untreated areas narrowly missed by the Caldor Fire.”
In previous years, in fact in decards, machinery was not allowed on ANY slope over 30%. This long-standing directive dates back to our own experience here in Incline Village when the former Ski Incline transformed its resort and doubled its terrain back in 1987. During that year, the expansion (now known as Diamond Peak) was literally built by hand. And for those of you who have skied the upper mountain, you can only imagine how the crews had to dig the holes for the lift towers, remove vegetation, and build structures at the top of the Peak.
The story adds another visual to the challenge at hand:
The policy change will facilitate additional forest health projects on steeper slopes. Approximately 61,000 acres in the Tahoe Basin have slopes from 30 to 50 percent, and nearly half of that area is in wildland-urban interface defense and threat zones near communities where hand crews continue to work. Additionally, post-fire assessments of the Caldor Fire show that steeper slopes tended to burn at higher severity than other areas.
“This is a game-changer for fuels reduction in the basin,” Chief Scott Lindgren of Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District said. “Hilly terrain is a significant portion of the Tahoe Basin and with the right kind of equipment, we can do quality fuel reduction work and protect the environment at the same time.”
Our team at Borelli Architecture applauds the TRPA and all who are focused on a healthier, safer, future for the entire region. If you are interested in learning more about their year-round efforts to preserve, restore, and enhance the unique natural and human environment of the Lake Tahoe Region, contact Jeff Cowen, Public Information Officer, at (775) 589-5278 or email@example.com.
If you would like a personal insight about the TRPA, securing building permits in Tahoe, and other key initiatives that are key to starting to build a home in the Tahoe basin Feel free to reach out to our architect firm in Lake Tahoe, Carson City, and Reno region.
James P. Borelli
Lake Tahoe / Truckee