Panel seeks emergency declaration in Tahoe Basin

The commission established to look into June's Angora fire unanimously agreed on dozens of recommendations Friday and will ask the Bush administration to declare a state of emergency for the Lake Tahoe Basin.

The emergency request move would allow for federal funding to prevent future catastrophic wildlife. A five-year emergency plan has been estimated at $7.8 million.

The commission finalized dozens of recommendations to the governors of California and Nevada this afternoon after monthly and twice monthly meetings since August.

The call for federal and state intervention was unanimously agreed upon before the group vote Friday on at least 70 other recommendations. The group's unanimous agreement sets in motion a number of measures aimed at protecting life, property and the environment.

Members of the California-Nevada Tahoe Basin Fire Commission had expressed both agreement and disagreement on a number of items in the 192-page document, but poised themselves to be unified in the final recommendations to the governors.

The plan will now move to a 30-day public review before reaching the governors' desks.

Among the recommendations in the plan, the document addresses a re-prioritization of forestry practices in the Lake Tahoe Basin and the means to pay for them.

Some 70-plus recommendations includes strong language, including changes in several policies on the books when it comes to the management of dead and dying timber, the removal of trees, otherwise known as thinning, and how to attack a forest fire once it starts.

As witnessed by June's Angora fire, which burned 3,072 acres, destroyed 354 homes and cost $140 million in property damage, the commission states there is a clear and imminent threat of wildfire in the Lake Tahoe Basin, and with that there is an urgent need to streamline policies that often conflict with one another.

"It's been hard thought and hard fought," Commissioner Patrick Wright told the panel as it wrestled Friday afternoon with how and where to place policies and recommendations on the document.


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