Panel ponders emergency declaration for Tahoe fire threat | NevadaAppeal.com

Panel ponders emergency declaration for Tahoe fire threat

Adam Jensen
Nevada Appeal News Service

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, CALIF. – The California-Nevada Tahoe Basin Fire Commission on Friday discussed recommending a gubernatorial state of emergency for the Lake Tahoe Basin because of wildfire risk.

Several members of the commission also briefly discussed recommending a change to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s compact to include wildfire prevention.

A gubernatorial emergency declaration committee, consisting of commission co-chairs Kate Dargan and Sig Rogich, was formed during the group’s last meeting in October. November’s commission meeting was canceled because of the Southern California wildfires.

At October’s meeting, the two-person committee was directed to evaluate recommending the governors of California and Nevada declare an emergency over the basin’s wildfire threat.

At Friday’s meeting at Lake Tahoe Community College, Dargan presented fire commissioners with an outline of items that must be examined before a emergency could be declared, including legal issues and determining unintended consequences.

The outline prompted commission members to discuss bolstering the gubernatorial emergency declaration committee with other commissioners. An emergency declaration could streamline wildfire prevention processes and help fund the basin, Dargan said outside Friday’s meeting.

“We’re trying to prepare for a catastrophic wildfire rather than respond to one,” Dargan said.

Under advice from legal counsel, discussion about expanding committee membership was delayed until next month’s commission meeting. The item was not on the agenda.

Rogich and commissioner Bud Hicks also discussed the possibility of changing the TRPA’s compact to include wildfire prevention as an agency priority.

Rogich said he thought the idea was “very doable,” Hicks said it was a “pretty dramatic suggestion” that will take a lot of discussion.

“I think there would be a lot of public support for (changing the compact),” Incline Village resident Pete King said during the meeting.

TRPA Executive Director John Singlaub said the agency would be happy to implement changes recommended by the commission, but noted it takes more than an act of Congress to change the TRPA’s compact.

“It’s not something to be taken lightly,” Singlaub said outside the meeting. “If there is agreement, it can be done.”

TRPA compact changes must be approved by both California and Nevada legislatures, the states’ governors, the U.S. Congress and the U.S. president, Singlaub said.