TRPA creates catastrophic wildfire committee

With some members of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency's Governing Board questioning its appropriateness, the board approved the creation of a "Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention Committee" at its monthly meeting on Wednesday.

"This fire prevention issue is important enough to have a committee on this board," said Coe Swobe, governing board member and author of the resolution creating the committee, at Wednesday's meeting.

He added that the committee will be a "positive and proactive" step by the planning agency to prevent catastrophic wildfire in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

A similar attempt by Swobe to create a wildfire committee was defeated in 2005.

"This is urgent, we need to be moving on it now," said Bruce Kranz, Placer County's representative on the board.

The wisdom of creating another committee during a time when there has been repeated calls for a more efficient bureaucracy in the Lake Tahoe Basin was questioned by several governing board members during the meeting.

"My concern is that we may have a train wreck coming," said Governing Board member Allen Biaggi, referring to the confusion that could arise if the committee's findings conflict with a recently assembled Fire and Fuels Planning Team within TRPA's staff.

Created on Aug. 17, the planning team "will work internally to coordinate and strategize approaches to streamline TRPA processes" in regard to fuels and fire issues, according to a TRPA memorandum.

A great deal of discussion during Wednesday's meeting focused on the interaction the committee would have with the planning team.

Each governing board committee is assigned a staff member, and approval of the resolution to create the committee came after Mike Vollmer, vegetation program manager and team leader for the Fire and Fuels Planning Team, was agreed upon as the appropriate person for the position.

The committee is expected to provide regular reports to the governing board and Swobe intends to present its findings to the bi-state Blue Ribbon Commission, which has been tasked with looking at forest management policies within the Lake Tahoe Basin.


Members of the Governing Board's Catastrophic Wildfire Prevention Committee:

Coe Swobe, Nevada at-large appointee

Bruce Kranz , Placer County appointee

Mike Weber, South Lake Tahoe appointee

Nancy McDermid, Douglas County appointee

Jim Galloway, Washoe County appointee

Norma Santiago, El Dorado County appointee

Steven Merrily, California Governor appointee


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