Senator Feinstein Calls on U.S. Forest Service and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to Renegotiate Guidelines on Permissible Hazardous Fuels Reduction Projects to Reduce Risk of Catastrophic Wildfires
Jul 17 2007
Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today called on the U.S. Forest Service and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to renegotiate the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which outlines the review and permitting process for hazardous fuels reduction projects on National Forestlands. These projects clear dead and dying trees and brush that are critical to helping reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires in the Tahoe Basin.
Senator Feinstein has long been an advocate for increasing federal funds to reduce hazardous fuels at Lake Tahoe. The recent Angora fire, which destroyed 254 homes and 85 businesses and will likely cause significant environmental damage to Lake Tahoe, underlined the importance of continuing and improving the hazardous fuel reduction process in the region.
To date, the Forest Service reports that it has been unable to spend nearly $10 million of hazardous fuels funding in the Lake Tahoe Basin because of undue restrictions.
The following is the text of the letter sent by Senator Feinstein to Forest Service Chief Gale Kimbell and John Singlaub, the Executive Director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency:
July 12, 2007
The Honorable Gale Kimbell
Chief of the Forest Service
1400 Independence Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20250-0003
Mr. John Singlaub, Executive Director
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency
128 Market Street
Stateline, Nevada 89449-5310
Dear Chief Kimbell and Mr. Singlaub:
I want to express my serious concern over reports that the Forest Service has not been able to spend $10 million on hazardous fuel reduction projects in the Lake Tahoe Basin and urge the Forest Service and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency renegotiate their existing Memorandum of Understanding to better streamline the review and permit process for forest management projects on National Forest land surrounding Lake Tahoe.
Increasing federal appropriations to reduce hazardous fuels at Lake Tahoe has been a top priority of mine since I have been in the Senate. The Lake Tahoe Restoration Act and the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act have been able to raise over $1 billion in Federal, State, local and private money to help restore Lake Tahoe including approximately $30 million for hazardous fuel reduction activities since 2002. In 2004, I joined former California Assemblyman Tim Leslie to launch comprehensive community wildfire protection planning efforts for the entire Tahoe Basin that were authorized in the Healthy Forest Act. These plans are complete and I expect will be funded once the Forest Service completes their comprehensive plan is completed.
It is vital that you renegotiate the Memorandum of Understanding as soon as possible because reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire will not only save lives and additional property from being destroyed; it will safeguard all of the environmental work we have done to ensure the economic vitality of Lake Tahoe.
Thank you for considering this request. I look forward to your response and please let me know how I can be of assistance.
United States Senator