Tahoe Basin Fire Safe Council elects board, applies for grants

After nearly a year of work to build a foundation for the Tahoe Basin Fire Safe Council, the organization has a board of directors and has applied for more than $300,000 in grants to help people reduce fire danger around their homes.

The council's mission is to educate residents about what they can do to prevent a forest fire and help secure public money to fund projects to reduce fire hazards around homes on the California side of the basin.

The council's board of directors was appointed from a pool of 25 nominees. The board is Tita Anderson, owner of Fromarc Insurance; Jon Hoefer, a retired forester for the U.S. Forest Service; Doug Holcomb, engineer for the South Lake Tahoe Fire Department; Andrew Strain, vice president of planning and governmental affairs at Heavenly Mountain Resort; and Steve Yonker, owner of Yonker Construction.

The board will meet monthly, tentatively starting for March.

"There may be enough urgency to get the board together before then," said Jennifer Arrowsmith, administrator of the fire safe council. "We need the leadership to help define our role. All the directors have expertise in different areas and links with the community so they can really help in shaping the fire council."

Reducing the threat of wildfire is the top priority of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, which oversees environmental restoration and building projects at the basin.

TRPA staff has said that fire safe councils on both sides of the lake, including a fire safe council formed on the Nevada side in 2000, will play a key role in fuel-reduction projects.

"There is really a collaborative effort between all the political figures and organizations," Arrowsmith said. "There is a persistent effort on everyone's part to get together and get something under way. There is a lot to accomplish, and I'm definitely up to challenge. It's a great way to kick-start the fire safe council."

Grants applied for on behalf of the fire safe council would be funded through the National Fire Plan.


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