BLM land manager to head TRPA

STATELINE - John Singlaub, a Carson City-based federal land manager, was chosen Wednesday evening to take over the top job at the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

Singlaub, 52, who lives in Reno, said he took notice when former TRPA Executive Director Juan Palma left his post at the end of April.

"As an undergraduate, I watched the TRPA form," said Singlaub. "As a planning student, I watched from afar. I feel I've been preparing for this all along. All the conflict, collaboration, personal relationship building; all those will be keys to success with this job."

Besides, Singlaub said, he looks forward to being able to continue to ski, mountain bike, and kayak at Lake Tahoe.

The Governing Board of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency selected Singlaub to be its executive director after two days of public interviews. He is expected to begin work Jan. 1.

Singlaub described the hiring process as grueling but proper, because it is similar to the type of scrutiny he will face as TRPA director. He was the land manager of more than 5 million acres in Nevada and California for the Bureau of Land Management. He currently has a staff of more than 100, plus 100 seasonal firefighters. He has worked for the federal government for 27 years.

As executive director, Singlaub said his first job will be to move from Reno to Tahoe. He is married and has three children.

"We have a strong regulatory role that involves homeowners in the basin," he said. "People enforcing those regulations should be subject to those regulations."

Singlaub received an undergraduate degree in geography from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1973. By 1979, he earned a master's degree in environmental and land-use planning from the University of Virginia School of Architecture.

Ensuing federal jobs took him to Washington, D.C.; Colorado; New Mexico and Oregon before he ended up in Carson City, where he has worked since 1994. As a BLM land manager, he deals with issues of water rights, grazing, mining, firefighting, off-road use and wild horses.

Jerry Wells, acting director of the TRPA, said one of Singlaub's priorities will be to work on a new plan for the basin, due by 2007.

"We'll support John in getting his feet on the ground and up to speed on all the issues," Wells said. "It's an exciting time as the agency works on Pathway 2007, really the rebirth of the whole regional plan. And we hope to hire a new communications director in the next couple of weeks. It will all be very positive for the staff and the basin."

Singlaub said his first task as executive director will be to listen to the concerns of TRPA staff, look for ways to improve the agency, and reach out to groups in and outside the basin.

Rochelle Nason, executive director of the League to Save Lake Tahoe, an environmental group founded before TRPA, said it will be important how Singlaub handles $240 million expected to be delivered for the basin as promised at the environmental summit in August.

"The new executive director is going to face a lot of challenges because of the pending federal funding for the Environmental Improvement Program," Nason said. "We're looking forward to working with John Singlaub to meet those challenges."


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