Friday, March 21, 2008

Report: Infighting hurt Tahoe wildfire response

SACRAMENTO — Steps to prevent catastrophic wildfires in the Lake Tahoe basin, one of the country’s most treasured natural wonders, have been hampered for years by bureaucratic infighting among agencies that often work at cross purposes, according to thousands of pages of documents reviewed by The Associated Press.
The failure of the agencies to adequately protect the basin was brought to light last June when the Angora Fire ripped through a thickly forested ravine and destroyed 254 homes near South Lake Tahoe.
Since then, blame has fallen on the overlapping agencies that have environmental and regulatory oversight of the Tahoe basin. A commission established after the fire is recommending ways to heal the rifts and will vote on its report Friday.
Trying to decipher how Lake Tahoe’s environment is managed and which agencies are in charge is a confounding exercise.

To start, its shores are divided between two states, immediately creating an additional layer of bureaucracy.
Beyond the various state agencies, the U.S. Forest Service administers much of the land around the lake. Then there are regional water boards that are charged with maintaining the lake’s clarity, multiple local governments and fire protection districts, and a two-state regional planning board whose regulations affect all the agencies, organizations and private landowners in the Tahoe basin.

This was just a summary of a long comprehensive
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****REMINDER**** Every fire has the ability to be catastrophic. The wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Growing numbers of communities, across the nation, are experiencing longer fire seasons; more frequent, bigger, and more severe, fires are a real threat. Be careful with all campfires and equipment.

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