Saturday, September 29, 2007

Angora -- One man's story

unedited Tahoe Mt.News Sept story

Editor’s note: This is a monthly article about one of the hundreds of people who lost their homes in the Angora Fire.

By Kathryn Reed

“Please pass along a hello and sympathies to John Mauriello. I met John several years ago and he used to hike to Angora for a lemonade. Tell him the next pitcher is on us, and he’s welcome to play a tune on our piano (not a grand, but a decent upright Yamaha).”
The email from Judith Hildinger at Angora Lakes Resort was sent to the Tahoe Mountain News last month.
Hiking isn’t something John Mauriello has done much of this summer. The 68-year-old retiree has been spending his days since June 24 trying to pick up the pieces of his life after the Angora Fire wiped out his house on Mount Olympia Circle.
When he was read the above email he got a little choked up. It made him pause. It gave him a slight breather from the endless thoughts of contractors, architects and insurance adjusters.
Finally, on Sept. 1 he and a buddy made the climb to the resort – a first since the fire.
Hildinger was waiting with a big hug – and lemonade.
The experience was bittersweet. The scar on the forest is everywhere. Escaping his reality is nearly impossible.
“You look to the left side and it’s so damn depressing. When you are walking you are looking down at it. It’s so widespread … so depressing. All because of whoever the fool was. The act of irresponsibility,” Mauriello said of the nearly 3,100 charred acres that was a result of an illegal campfire.
Now his exercise time is spent at Lake Tahoe Community College’s gym. It’s physically and mentally rewarding. He says is makes up for the hikes he hasn’t done this summer.

Rebuilding hell

Mauriello thought he’d be further along in the rebuilding process. Now he’s not even sure he wants to rebuild.
“I won’t move out of Tahoe. If I move out of Tahoe, I’m turning my back on the people who went out of their way to help me,” Mauriello said. “What I would like is for someone to say is this is what it’s going to cost you and this is what I can do. And then I can make a decision. I need a place to live and I’m losing enthusiasm for it.”
One contractor gave him a price to rebuild and then added that he could be off by 10 percent. Ten percent of the total is not a chunk of change Mauriello is willing to gamble with.
On Aug. 16 he met with contractor Hal Cole at his excavated Mount Olympia site to discuss possibilities.
Mauriello had a 1,720-square-foot two-story modified A-frame. A-frames can’t be built anymore based on today’s codes. He has coverage to build a 2,900-square-foot home. He wants 1,800-square-feet of living space.
Cole explained that three stories, as Mauriello has first wanted, are likely out of the question because of height limitations.
The contractor threw out the idea of hydronic heating via the floors, which he said would add about $5,000 to the whole project.
They went to a house on Texas Street that Cole had built to see the cement siding that looks like cedar.
Cole cautioned against using an architect for the size house Mauriello wants, and instead suggested finding plans already approved to speed up the process and avoid additional costs and headaches.
“You aren’t thinking re-sale. You’re thinking retiring,” Cole said.
“That is what I did. I retired here,” Mauriello said.
“Unless you want a dream house, you don’t need an architect,” Cole said. “Give me a day or two to come up with a design. I will help you any way I can to get through this process.”
Despite the promise to help, as of the first week of September, Mauriello had not heard from Cole since that day in mid-August.

Insurance issues

His insurance company, Hartford through AARP, is not being as diligent as Mauriello would like. The company is not answering his question nor are representatives putting things in writing – it’s been a lot of phone calls and not much movement.
Mauriello wonders about a check he received. He wonders if he cashes it, does that signify he is OK with the amount, or is more to come. He wonders about paying off the mortgage. He wonders about keeping the lot and buying something else.
When Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, who is also the former state insurance commissioner, was in town Aug. 17 for a meeting at the Elk’s Club he talked about people hitting a wall two to three months after the initial tragedy.
“You’ve got to prevent the second burn, which is the insurance process,” Garamendi said. “Expect controversies and delays. Most people won’t rebuild until they have settlements.”
Mauriello has hit that proverbial wall.
He is supposed to receive checks for living expenses – things like rent – from Hartford. He faxes the company receipts. They’ve never sent him a check for the bills.
“August has really been a disappointing month,” he said after Labor Day. “Going over my inventory (of lost items) is so depressing. It just brings everything back.”

Mixed feeling about county

El Dorado County Supervisor Norma Santiago met with Angora neighbors informally over pizza on Aug. 14.
“She is on our side without any doubt. She is doing everything possible within her power, and I might add she is very new at this, to make sure all of us, the Angora survivors, are well taken care of,” Mauriello said the day after that encounter. “She is doing everything possible to ensure that we can restore our lives as quickly as possible.”
What he’d like is a list of names and phone numbers of people who lost their homes. Mostly so everyone is hearing the same thing – about facts, meetings and putting rumors to bed.
He’d also like Santiago to arrange for a delay in needing to file building plans by the end of the year. If he and others don’t, they will have to meet the state building codes that take effect Jan. 1.
“I don’t want to build on emotion, I want to build on intelligence,” Mauriello said. More time, he believes, would allow him to make more informed decisions about something that is so important – his home.
Tree removal is a big bugaboo with him. All the comments and paperwork right after the fire said homeowners were responsible for clearing dead trees from their property.
Mauriello did so – at a cost of about $5,000 to his insurance company.
Last month the county reversed that decision and said it would contract for tree removal.
Homeowners who already had the lumber carted off cannot get reimbursed, according to Santiago.
Even though the cash is not directly out of Mauriello’s wallet, it will affect what the insurance company gives him for landscaping when he is ready for that stage of recovery.

Saying thank you

When the Mountain News caught up with Mauriello on Aug. 20 he was handwriting thank yous. He knows he won’t reach everyone – after all, indirectly thousands of people have helped him.
He’s thankful for the meals he got at St. Theresa’s, the other churches which provided aid, all of the volunteers, the truck drivers who brought goods.
“I really want to thank everyone. Even the people who prayed,” Mauriello said.

Meyers Landfill update

unedited Tahoe Mt. News Sept. story

By Kathryn Reed

A tentative agreement has been reached with many of the third parties mired in the 16-year-old Meyers Landfill lawsuit.
Details will not be available until papers are signed.
The 26-acre site off Pioneer Trail was a dump until the early 1970s through a special use permit the Forest Service issued to El Dorado County. The feds sued when vinyl chloride was found seeping into the groundwater.
Other defendants are South Lake Tahoe, Douglas County, South Tahoe Public Utility District, Lake Tahoe Unified School District, Raley’s, South Tahoe Refuse, Harrah’s, Harveys, Heavenly, Safeway, Hertz, Barton Healthcare and Sierra Pacific Power Co.
“As I explained, at this point in time we are not in a position to reveal the identities of any parties with whom a tentative settlement has been reached as this matter remains pending litigation,” said Mike Ciccozzi, El Dorado County deputy counsel.
Throughout the process, Douglas County and the city have also been at the forefront of the lawsuit and part of the erratic mediation process that got nowhere this month. The parties are scheduled to meet again next month.
Barton and STPUD say they are not part of the tentative agreement.
“We feel we are such a small player and have no liability that we chose not to take part in mediation,” said Kathryn Biasotti, director of quality and risk management for Barton.
The hospital had asked the judge for a summary judgment, but was denied. One argument the hospital has used is that it burned all of its waste so no contaminants from the facility polluted the dump. Biasotti said she remembers in 1988 when she started at Barton an incinerator was still being used.
South Tahoe PUD was first involved in the lawsuit because one of its lines goes under the dump. It has been determined that garbage was strewn over it and that the line is correctly placed.
“The preferred alternative of the Forest Service (for remediation) does not involve us moving that line. It involves moving the garbage put over the line and consolidating and making the cap smaller,” explained Dennis Cocking, spokesman for the district. “Once we determined that, we decided our liability was zero.”
Nonetheless, both entities are still party to the lawsuit.

Contradictions abound

A series of meeting was hosted by the Forest Service earlier this year about what type of cap should be put on the dump.
This month the agency expects to have responses to the 41 comments it received.
The decision about which cap will be used should be revealed in December, according to spokeswoman Cheva Heck.
But much disagreement still exists as to the legal requirements. Some say the law mandates the cap and reuse must be done at the same, whereas others say they are separate processes.
One reason people want the process to run concurrently is that the type of cap can restrict the subsequent use. Without knowing the type or level of use the land will endure, it is hard to determine the grade of cap that should be installed.
It has been documented that the county would like ownership of the land transferred to it so first the cleanup could be done under their purview and then the proposed use could go through the necessary steps. An idea often bandied about is moving Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care to the old dump and expanding it to be a wildlife park and rehabilitation center.
The Forest Service has contradicted itself through the years about how the whole process works as evidenced by correspondence obtained by the Tahoe Mountain News.
A letter dated Aug. 31, 2004, from former Forest Supervisor Maribeth Gustafson to then South Lake Tahoe Mayor Tom Davis says, “Current and proposed activities associated with the [wildlife] Center would not contribute to Forest Service wildlife management, interpretive services, or other objectives.”
A letter dated May 3, 2006, from Deputy Forest Supervisor Tyrone Kelley to El Dorado County Supervisor Norma Santiago says, “We are requesting your formal proposal for the wildlife care center reuse of the Meyers Landfill site. … The Forest Service is willing to consider transfer of title of the site after clean up to the City of South Lake Tahoe or El Dorado County along with the operation and maintenance of the CERCLA clean up site. It is timely to formalize the proposal for the wildlife care center since we are in the RI/FS phase, which includes post closure use considerations in developing the remedy.”
A letter dated Oct. 16, 2006, from Forest Supervisor Terri Marceron to Interested Parties says, “The decision about the type of cover selected will allow for a range of uses (in terms of impacts) allowable for the cap to be effective, but not what those uses might be. … When the site remedies are in place and determined effective, a seperate (cq) process will be opened widely to the public for comment, ideas, input and suggestions.”

What now?

Even this year the Forest Service has contradicted itself to the point that local officials are scurrying to shore-up support outside the basin.
Brad Shipley is the Forest Service’s remedial project manager for the landfill. He believes CERCLA – Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act – should be followed. This means combining reuse with cleanup.
However, in a lengthy email to the Mountain News dated June 12, 2007, Forest Service spokesman Rex Norman wrote that it’s the National Environmental Policy Act his agency must follow.
That, though, contradicts information on the EPA’s website about Superfund sites, which the Meyers Landfill was designated as. It says CERLA is the law.
Mediation may solve the controversy and the following questions: Who will own the land when all is said and done? Who will pay to cleanup the site? How much will it cost? What is the timeline? What are the possible uses when it is cleaned up?
Mayor Kathay Lovell as chair of the South Lake Tahoe Basin Waste Management Authority sent letters to California and Nevada, and federal politicians who govern the area to enlist their help with resolving the matter.
The waste authority was created in 1994 by the city and two counties – the three primary defendants in the lawsuit.
The July 24 letter in part says, “As part of a mediated settlement, it has been proposed that a parcel of land including the former landfill property be transferred from Forest Service ownership to El Dorado County, with the County being entrusted with administration of the settlement proceeds and responsible for the closure and post-closure of the landfill. … We believe El Dorado County can close the landfill more economically than the Forest Service.”
The elected officials also received an executive summary of the landfill that outlines how the wildlife center would be incorporated into the reuse. Many of these same people had previously received the more thorough feasibility study of the wildlife park that the Forest Service had originally requested but has since said is pointless because the cap comes before the reuse.
The Forest Service, along with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Lahontan Water Quality Control Board, was in on the meetings that led to the feasibility study.

Angora -- Need a helicopter?

unedited Tahoe Mt. News Sept. story

Firefighting helicopter issue up in the air

By Kathryn Reed

No one disagrees that helicopters are a vital component when it comes to fighting wildland fires. But no clear consensus exists about whether one should be permanently stationed in the Lake Tahoe Basin during fire season.
The U.S. Forest Service has two helicopters at Big Hill in the Eldorado National Forest near Ice House Lake – which is about a 10-minute flight to the basin. One is north of here in the Tahoe National Forest and two are stationed in Minden.
CalFire has helicopters in Columbia and Vina, which is north of Chico. It has two fixed-wing aircraft in Grass Valley.
Two anonymous residents in Incline Village have donated about $30,000 to the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District to have a helicopter on standby during fire season.
Washoe County commissioners in July agreed to buy a tank that could haul 350 gallons of water via the sheriff’s department’s Huey. Fire agencies in that county are looking at ways to share the cost of using the helicopter when needed.
North Tahoe Fire District, which is on the California side, plans to host a meeting this month with regional fire officials to discuss the need for a firefighting helicopter in the basin.
It is likely the bi-state commission appointed by Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jim Gibbons will also address the helicopter conundrum. The commission first met Sept. 10 and will come out with recommendations March 21.
“There’s going to be a lot of fact finding. Determination of future needs will be flushed out by the commission. We won’t weigh-in on a helicopter in the basin until the commission is allowed to do its work,” said Mary Huggins, the CalFire division chief stationed in South Lake Tahoe.
CalFire’s director and the state fire marshal are part of the commission.
It is the Forest Service’s belief that a helicopter is not needed in the basin because of the proximity of other aircraft. A minimum of two are always available to be called upon by the Tahoe office.
“I think it would be a wasted resource. A helicopter is like all federal resources. It doesn’t sit in one place. They go where they are needed,” said John Washington, fuels battalion chief for the local Forest Service office. “If the day came, would the helicopter be sitting there? I don’t know.”
Three types of helicopters are employed by the federal agency. The largest is like a Black Hawk which has a capacity to haul 2,000 gallons of water.
The Forest Service contracts with private companies for access to helicopters and then pays them an additional hourly rate when they are used. Washington admits money is an issue when talk turns to a helicopter in the basin, though he doesn’t know what the bill is for leasing aircraft.
Tom Pandola, CalSTAR program manager, says is would cost about $240,000 for a 60-day helicopter lease or $360,000 for 90 days. South Lake Tahoe Fire Chief Lorenzo Gigliotti said it’s about $800,000 to lease a copter for a fire season.
As a former commander of the air operations with the Los Angeles Fire Department and employee of the Southern California agency for 25 years, Pandola speaks from experience and not as a CalSTAR employee.
“My experience is the best and fastest way to put water on a wildland urban interface is with a helicopter. There are very few things in the world that I have an opinion on that is 100 percent black and white. A helicopter is the one thing I know we need,” Pandola said. “I’m talking about preventing a disaster in the first place. By the time the Forest Service has the ability to mobilize forces we are going to lose 200 to 300 homes and have environmental damage.”
He points to the Gondola Fire in 2002 that was first spotted by CalSTAR crews as an example of a fire that should never have grown to more than 600 acres.
“It took so long for firefighters to get to it. It had time to get going and head uphill,” Pandola said. “Eventually a lot of helicopters were on it. Had they been there right away it would have been a half acre.”
Pandola has taken his cause to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Governing Board, the radio and RSN to promote staging a helicopter at Lake Tahoe Airport.
“I made the suggestion that TRPA pay for it or part of it. What better way to protect the Lake than put out fires when they are small,” Pandola said.
Although TRPA just created a fire committee whose first meeting will be Sept. 19, spokeswoman Julie Regan doesn’t anticipate helicopters will be on the agenda but instead talks will focus on items like defensible space.
Not every fire is conducive to an immediate air assault. Some would say the Angora Fire fits that description.
“I feel pretty comfortable between wind, weather and fire behavior that the air assets were here relatively quickly, but it was difficult to fly in,” said South Lake’s Gigliotti of the June 24 disaster. “It was not a response issue. It was fire conditions and weather that day.”
At the peak of Angora, 14 helicopters and six planes took to the skies to combat what became a nearly 3,100-acre desecration.
“When you have a fire you want to hit it as fast as possible and suppress it,” said Mike Brown, fire chief for North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District. “Either you pay for a fire at the beginning or afterward. (A helicopter) would be insurance. To have it here in the basin would make people more comfortable and when an incident does take place everyone feels safer.”

Angora -- Recovery begins

unedited Tahoe Mt. News Sept. story

Recovery efforts take root

By Kathryn Reed

As rain descended on the South Shore, the South Lake Tahoe City Council took less than an hour to vote on three items related to containing runoff from the Angora Fire area.
Just as homeowners wrestle with myriad decisions in the wake of the June 24 wildland fire, so too must local, state and federal agencies. Each week has been filled with meetings – and that doesn’t seem likely to change for some time.
While the sense of cooperation exists, the city is concerned water and debris from property owned by others will inundate city residents and flow into the Lake.
“The reason for the special meeting is so the director of public works can take actions to protect the city’s residents from possible flooding and possible contaminated water from Angora,” explained City Manger Dave Jinkens at the start of the special meeting.
The council voted 4-0 Aug. 31 to accept a $274,000 grant from the California Tahoe Conservancy for emergency rehabilitation of the fire area; to have Poggemeyer Design Group provide professional services for the city in regards to Angora Fire Aftermath Mediation Projects; and to take $114,999 out of reserves to have the California Conservation Corp do Angora rehab work, have Kennedy Jenks Consulting Engineers provide technical support and have Liquid Innovations test water quality.
“We anticipate tree removal from the Forest Service creating the potential for landslides and avalanches. The consultant will provide a threat analysis,” said John Greenhut, city public works director.
Councilman Bill Crawford chose not to stay at the Friday meeting because he questioned the legality of Councilman Mike Weber being able to vote via teleconference.
“I would actually like to be criticized for spending money we didn’t need to spend,” said Councilman Ted Long after the roll call votes.
The CCC last month started placing sandbags in critical areas of the city to prevent deluges from creating massive problems and to keep debris from entering drainage systems.
“Ideally, they could contain the runoff on their property,” Jinkens said of the Forest Service. “We think they are responsible for all costs associated with that.”
Because the city does not believe the Forest Service is doing enough to prevent runoff from leaving the burn area, the city is being proactive.
The areas the city is most concerned with are Gardner Mountain, South Tahoe High School and water flow at Viking Way and Lake Tahoe Boulevard. The city is asking Lake Tahoe Unified School District and El Dorado County to share the expense. The city has contacted the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency for $800,000 in water mitigation funds.
“My staff was able to meet with the Forest Service and the Forest Service was very cooperative in helping us to get access to the site where we plan to build a basin. They did give us permission to do that,” Greenhut told the Mountain News hours after the morning meeting.
A drainage basin will be constructed at the foot of the hill leading up to the high school from Lake Tahoe Boulevard – on Forest Service property.
On school district property, the city will construct a head wall and trash rack on the storm drain inlet so branches and pine cones are kept out.
To further its cause, on Aug. 28 the city manager wrote a two-page letter to Harold Singer, executive officer of the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board. Singer is in a unique position considering he is one of the 256 homeowners to have lost his house in the summer inferno.
In part the letter says, “… the City requests that the Board issue an order pursuant to Water Code Section 13304 to the USFS requiring it to take all necessary remedial action, including appropriate construction of retaining berms, basins, levees, or other structures, to preclude runoff into the City.”
The city is concerned it will surpass the limits Lahontan allows for nitrogen, phosphorus, iron and sediment going into the Lake. The city could be held liable for the nutrients reaching the Lake even if the originating source is Forest Service land.
CTC takes quick action
The fire necessitated the California Tahoe Conservancy to call a special meeting on Aug. 13. It had been about 15 years since the CTC had an August meeting.
The Conservancy owns 229 lots or 102 acres in the burn area. Of those, 175 parcels or about 85 acres were burned to some degree.
At the meeting, the CTC board agreed to spend $2.182 million on Angora relief. Part of that is the above mentioned $274,000 grant to the city. The remainder is divvied up between the county getting a $600,000 grant and $1.308 million going to fire restoration on CTC property, as well as monitoring the fire’s effects and effectiveness of the restoration.
The board accepted $1.5 million from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – money that will go to fire restoration.
As of last month, other funding sources for fire recovery include:
• Natural Resources Conservation Service -- $350,000
• Cal Fire -- $375,000
• Forest Service -- $3.19 million
• California State Parks -- $20,000
• Other agencies -- $3.5 million
Sierra Pacific Industries will haul out about 1 million board feet of lumber from CTC property.
By the end of July the agency had a report about Angora Creek recommending a berm or riser upstream of Lake Tahoe Boulevard be put in to act like a dam.
Planning for the future
The CTC and Forest Service created the 10-page Angora Fire Watershed Restoration Plan in August. Fire suppression rehabilitation will continue through September, stabilization for the winter season will be ongoing through November, with long-term recovery efforts beginning this November and lasting through most of 2010.
More than $13 million has been committed to the suppression-rehab phase, with the bulk coming from the Forest Service.
Of the $8.7 million pledged for the stabilization efforts, about $5 million is from the feds, $3.3 million from California and $375,000 from the county.
“The focus of this phase is to prevent damage to life, property, and natural or cultural resources through the 2007 winter season. The specific actions will continue to evolve as the agencies continue to assess the areas affected by the fire,” the report says.
Funding for the long-term recovery has not been secured. The Forest Service is in the process of developing a multi-resource restoration plan.
“The federal, state, and local agencies, working with the Tahoe Science Consortium, are developing a comprehensive monitoring and assessment program to characterize changes in the Angora Creek ecosystem overtime,” the report states.
The main topics to be addressed are air quality, upland soils and erosion control effectiveness, stream geomorphology, water quality and biological resources.
Spotlight on Tahoe
At the 11th annual Lake Tahoe Environmental Summit at Incline on Aug. 17 the parade of speakers hit on forest management being critical to keeping the emerald waters pristine.
“The U.S. Forest Service has $10 million unspent. Spend those dollars Mr. Rey,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to fellow panelist Mark Rey, undersecretary of Agriculture.
She talked extensively about reducing fire fuels from the forests. As someone who has long had a second home in the basin, Feinstein is not just another politician out on a photo op. She toured the burn area and she met with fire chiefs from the region while she was in town.
“There is risk of a catastrophic fire. Not enough is being done to reduce that risk,” Feinstein said.
For his part, Rey admitted his department which oversees the Forest Service needs to act faster to achieve its goals – citing how three-quarters of the land in the basin still needs the first dose of fuels reduction management.
At the summit, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne announced another $45 million would be headed to Tahoe for environmental projects, with $10 million of that just for hazardous fuels reduction.
“When we think about America the beautiful, this is one of those places,” Kempthorne told the crowd of nearly 1,000.
Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., has been at the forefront of trying to secure money for Tahoe and is a regular supporter of the summits that was first orchestrated by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.
“Over the last several years we have worried about Lake clarity and not enough about fuel reduction,” Ensign said. “We need to look at the whole eco system, not just erosion.”
He called the riparian areas near stream zones a “wick” that spreads fire because current regulations prevent thorough thinning.
“We have to love the Lake so much that we get bureaucracy out of the way,” Ensign said.
California Lt. Gov. John Garamendi seemed the logical state official on hand. After all, from 1974-84 he represented South Lake Tahoe in the Legislature. In his last year he authored the bill creating the California Tahoe Conservancy. In 1997, as deputy secretary of the Interior he helped organize the first summit, which created the Environmental Improvement Program.
Since that first summit, more than $1 billion has been spent on the EIP.
The inaugural 1997 summit brought then President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore to the Lake. Clinton returned last month.
“I’m the only person speaking who can’t do a single thing to help you. But I know someone who can,” Clinton said to a roar of applause.
He talked about first seeing Lake Tahoe in 1971 while in law school and the effect it had on him and then girlfriend Hillary Rodham.
“We owe the world the preservation of Lake Tahoe,” Clinton said. “By preserving places like Lake Tahoe, you will create economic opportunities.”

• Fire started by illegal campfire June 24
• Fire contained July 2
• Fire controlled July19
• 90 percent of burn area in National Forest
• 256 lots burned represent 144 acres
• Washoe Meadows State Park had 17 acres burn
• Angora Fire Fund is still accepting applications from people wanting financial assistance. Donations are also still being sought. Go to; in person at any US Bank or mail to the Angora Fire Fund (Locals for Locals) P.O. Box 17640, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96151.
• Bi-state Blue Ribbon Commission’s first meeting, Sept. 10, 9 a.m., LTCC – report of recommendations expected March 21
• $200 million in property damage, according to Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner; 577 insurance claims as of his Aug. 23 meeting in South Lake Tahoe; 12 complaints filed with department; $82 million paid by insurance companies; information at 800-9274357 or

Angora -- wildlife victims

unedited Tahoe Mt. News Sept. story

By Kathryn Reed

How many animals perished or have been displaced because of the Angora Fire may never be known.
Now is the time to deal with those who have survived and restoring their habitat. In each step of the U.S. Forest Service’s recovery and restoration process, wildlife, their homes and food sources are discussed.
In the burn acreage were two protected areas for northern goshawks and one for spotted owls. Since the June 24 inferno began and was finally contained on July 2, the birds have been seen by officials.
It’s possible a protected area will be established close to where they had been nesting. Long-term restoration plans must go through a lengthy federal process that includes time for public input.
“When we are fighting a fire, wildlife specialists say where species are nesting so we can try to save those locations,” explained Victor Lyon, wildlife biologist with the Forest Service. “Every step of the way wildlife resources are addressed.”
He said it is impossible to account for the deceased animals because a study had not been done before the fire to identify all of the animals, so counting the ones which remain or come back doesn’t gauge the loss.
Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care isn’t about to estimate the number of losses either. But the South Shore rehabilitation center has been an integral player in helping those left behind.
“When we were finally allowed go to in we found dead porcupines, dead squirrels,” said Cheryl Millham, LTWC executive director. “When you think about these little, tiny guys, they go back into the tree where they were born and the tree burned up. If the parents could get out, they did. All the little babies in the trees and ground squirrels died of heat or smoke inhalation. There was no way they could outrun the fire.”
Some displaced squirrels and chipmunks are scurrying about the neighborhoods that are intact. A volunteer at LTWC used to have a handful of squirrels. Since the fire her place on Seneca has become home to more than a couple dozen.
Birds with singed feathers have come to the center off Elks Club Road. A coyote which had been close to the fire area arrived at LTWC with a broken back.
“We have a story we can’t verify that the two firemen who had to deploy their blanket, that a chipmunk went under with them and then got out with them,” Millham said.
What is fact is the center with the help of veterinarian Kevin Willitts and El Dorado County sheriff’s Sgt. Pete Van Arnum, who is a LTWC volunteer, treated bears with fire burns almost immediately.
A firefighter described feeling the heat through his boots, so wildlife crews weren’t surprised to find a black bear with third degree burns on two of its paws. Van Arnum tranquilized her and crews treated her injuries with a medical field kit.
She’s a neighborhood bear. Every few days Millham gets a call saying the critter is doing OK.
About two weeks after the fire, Willitts had to euthanize a bear because all four paws were scorched, its toes were rotting and maggots were in its feet.
“We know other bears are out there. If they are as bad as her, they would be dead from infection,” Millham said.
The Forest Service says it’s a guess at best to say the increased bear activity is because of the Angora Fire.
“Without tagging the bears or otherwise tracking them, we couldn’t really say,” Lyon said. “The best things for bears is to safely store your trash, don’t put pet food out on the porch overnight, don’t leave reasons to attract bears to your neighborhood.”
Millham attributes the abundance of bears to them being pushed out of their homes from the fire, as well as to Mother Nature.
“Because of no rain the streams are drying up. Natural food sources are drying up. There should be tons of berries right now and there are none,” Millham said. “Bears are not acting aggressively. They are not a threat. They want to survive like all us want to survive.”
The rehab center is caring for two cubs left behind when their mother was killed last month after it entered a house in Christmas Valley and a sheriff’s deputy felt threatened.
A volunteer at LTWC uses the analogy that if a thief is known to be in the neighborhood, you wouldn’t leave doors and windows open. A bear is a thief – a food thief. The same logic should be applied to bears as residents would to a human thief – keep doors and windows shut and locked at night no matter how warm it is.
LTWC is caring for five cubs, with maximum capacity being six. Grocery Outlet and Raley’s are good about donating food, but the $500 grocery bill to feed the little guys is taking a hit on the nonprofit’s budget.
Millham worries things will get worse for wildlife as the Forest Service embarks on its 10-year fuels reduction plan.
“The bird count is way down … about half because of West Nile virus and the fire. We need to make the Forest Service understand they can’t cut down (habitat) in the first three months of spring when birds and animals are reproducing,” Millham said. “I’m not against fire protection. The Forest Service has taken care of the owls and goshawks. But what about the other guys, the robins, stellar jays, woodpeckers … that whole generation where they are going to cut will be dead.”
Lyon explains that fire is a natural occurrence in nature and that it’s necessary to thin the forests.
“I don’t think thinning will actually negatively affect wildlife in the long term. The conditions that allow them to thrive are conditions we are trying to mimic by thinning,” Lyon said.

Lahontan and sediment in Lake Tahoe

unedited Tahoe Mt. News Sept. story

By Kathryn Reed

Two reports coming out this month from Lahontan Water Quality Control Board are designed to be the building blocks for keeping sediment out of Lake Tahoe and helping restore clarity to a depth of 100 feet.
UC Davis this summer in its inaugural “Tahoe: State of the Lake Report 2007” pointed to climate change as being a significant reason the white plate-like Secchi disk is less visible than in years past. In 2006, it could be seen at 67.7.
More precipitation creates more erosion or runoff of fine particles into the streams that flow into the Lake. This could explain why in 2006 clarity dropped more than five feet from the previous year. The amount of precipitation that year was 84 percent more than the average between 2001-05.
Lahontan released a draft of the total maximum daily load report in August 2006. The final is one of the documents coming out this month. It includes all the science that explains the problem. The water board’s other report deals with ways to solve the problem.
Both will be the focus of three daylong meetings as part of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s Pathway 2007 Forum. The first is Sept. 27 at Lake Tahoe Community College, then Oct. 25 at the North Tahoe Conference Center in Kings Beach and the third Dec. 6 at LTCC. All are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
A wrap-up meeting is tentatively scheduled for February. People wanting to relay comments to P-07 members may do so via
The first meeting will give an overview of the issue, how fine particles are the main culprit to declining Lake clarity, with the scientific evidence to back up that statement. The latter meetings will focus on what people want to do about it and how to accomplish those goals.
“We are launching the public process to formulate an implementation plan to restore Lake Tahoe. We want to engage the general public and those tasked with having to do it,” is how Lahontan division manager Lauri Kemper described the purpose of the fall meetings. “We don’t care which way we get there. We just care about load reductions. We are producing the science and tools to evaluate those choices.”
Reducing particles into Tahoe isn’t something agencies in the basin thought up. This is a mandate from the Environmental Protection Agency that is part of the Clean Water Act.
What comes of this will, however, be incorporated into TRPA’s next regional plan which is expected to be adopted in late 2008 and be a working document the next year. Both states must approve the plan before it goes to EPA headquarters for the final OK. That is expected to happen in 2010.
Despite the lengthy review process, it doesn’t mean things are at a standstill. Caltrans and the Nevada Department of Transportation have done stormwater runoff research which is being incorporated into their projects. Kemper said projects her department oversees must use the most up-to-date technical and design standards.
“Fine particles was the big emphasis last year. That shifted individual project design,” the engineer said.
South Lake Tahoe is working on reducing sediments thought its rock project in Sierra tract, two basins on Eloise Avenue and the Industrial tract project.
Lahontan is looking at its sediment and fuel reduction regulations. Mechanized equipment can be used on dry soil, driving on slash piles may be an option, leaving woodchips, repairing trails for proper drainage and getting rid of unnecessary roads are options, according to Kemper.
“Now we have more information, science and tools to evaluate our decisions,” Kemper said.
Reducing how much particle matter goes into Tahoe is close to a billion dollar endeavor when all the studies and Environmental Improvement Projects are tallied.
“I think it’s worth it because the Lake is a unique resource and international treasure. If we lose it, it’s difficult to regain it. It’s a public decision,” Kemper said. “We hope the public will see the difference their choices make.”

Breakout box:

The annual average Secchi measurements for the past several years:
1968: 102.4 feet (first year measured)
1997: 64 feet (worst year)
2000: 67.3 feet
2001: 73.6 feet
2002: 78 feet
2003: 71 feet
2004: 73.6 feet
2005: 72.4 feet
2006: 67.7 feet

Source: UC Davis

Angora: Keep out -- erosion issues

unedited Tahoe Mt. News Sept. article

Warnings issued, erosion control efforts increase

By Kathryn Reed

People walking into the burn area of the Angora Fire have been given warnings by U.S. Forest Service personnel. If they do it again, they could face a citation which is a misdemeanor.
“Education is always the goal, even when we issue a citation,” said Beth Brady, Forest Service fire prevention officer. “We explain to people why the closure is there.”
The agency also makes sure proper signage is posted where the trespassers entered. The no entry rule is to protect people from hurting themselves and the environment.
Forest Service employees also must limit their activity in the burn area.
“We are very conscientious about how much traffic we put in there. Even our monitoring crews are minimizing traffic in there,” Brady said.
For the better part of September it is even more crucial people stay out of the charred area because the Forest Service will be hydromulching. This allows crews to get into the more remote areas, where as rice straw is being strewn on ground closer to roads.
The purpose is to control erosion and stop hillsides from flowing into Lake Tahoe.
“People walking or biking in that area could undermine the treatment,” spokeswoman Cheva Heck said. She added the Forest Service will have a stronger presence during hydromulching to enforce the no entry rule.
The mulch is a paper, wood, fiber mix with water and guar gum to hold it all together. It will be spread on four sections, totaling 636 acres. The remaining acreage was treated with wood and rice straw, which was completed Aug. 29.
As for who started the illegal campfire that erupted into the 3,100-acre blaze and razed more than 250 houses, it’s still unknown.
“We don’t have any other leads to follow. The only way that would change is if someone comes forward,” Brady said.

3 seats up for LTUSD board

unedited Tahoe Mt. News Sept. story

Field of 6 goes after 3 LTUSD seats

By Kathryn Reed

No matter who is elected to the Lake Tahoe Unified School District’s board of education in two months, it will look different than it does now.
When Doug Forte left the board earlier this year Hal Cole was appointed to fill the remainder of the term. He has since resigned so the seat is empty. Four newcomers to the political scene and incumbents Sue Novasel and Barbara Bannar are vying for the three available seats.
The challengers in the Nov. 6 race are Mike Doyle, Larry Green, Lauri Kemper and Jill Sanders.
In alphabetical order, here at the contenders to fill out the five-person board:
Barbara Bannar
“The biggest thing I have to offer over the other candidates is experience and a proven record on the board,” Bannar said. “What we have done in the last four years has been very successful. It’s been good for the children first and foremost and good for the community. I believe what the board has done is a reflection of what the community wants for its children.”
The 44-year-old is finishing her first term. She is married and has two children at the middle school. Although she has an MBA and earned a certificate in masters in governance through the California School Boards Association, her primary job is her children.
She wants to keep the district going in the current direction, pointing to accomplishments that include opening one of two closed elementary schools, stabilizing declining enrollment, increasing test scores and creating a community sports complex at the middle school.
One of her goals in the next four years is to get all school sites performing at an adequate level to meet standards set by No Child Left Behind.
“That’s the biggest goal because we still have issues at Bijou Elementary and we will have issues at the high school unless we do things quickly,” Bannar said.
To avoid another brouhaha like last year’s contract negotiations, Bannar said the staff will be brought into the budget process to make everyone aware of health care costs, what the state is providing, and what salaries can look like based on who is employed.
As for the facilities bond that has been talked about for a 2008 ballot, Bannar said it is in the preliminary discussion stages.
“It’s a matter of education is underfunded. We have buildings that are outdated,” the Meyers resident said. “It’s a dance where we need to look at the needs of our community and the needs of our children. You can’t present a bond that has no relation to what the community wants.”
She points out the skill Superintendent Jim Tarwater has had in finding funding sources and to his leadership.
Bannar believes a vote for her is a vote for keeping the district going in the direction it has been going.
Mike Doyle
“Compared to the other candidates I definitely have more of a perspective of active parents in the district right now,” Doyle said. “For example, a few years ago when they had to close two elementary schools, it was very crowded at Tahoe Valley where two of my kids were. I don’t want to see things like that happening in our district in the future if that can be avoided.”
The 45-year-old South Lake Tahoe resident remarried this summer. Between them they have six kids in the district – two in elementary, two in middle school, two at the high school. His wife, Madonna Smith, has been active in the Sierra House PTA and Measure L, and his mom was a teacher.
As a pediatrician, Doyle is constantly interacting with parents and children, calling the school board “a natural extension of what I do in my office. I’m very interested in everything that affects children.”
He wants to keep an eye on the 4 x 4 schedule at South Tahoe High to make sure it works for all kids. He is a proponent of class size reduction, keeping preschool and Preppie K programs.
“The big thing that seems to be looming over the district is all the issues with test scores and satisfying the requirements of No Child Left Behind and making sure all the schools’ test scores are improving,” Doyle said, though admitting he is not a fan of the federal mandate. “It seems like there are a lot of corrective measures to make sure that happens.”
He believes his team player approach, working toward a compromise and ability to build consensus are strengths he’d bring to the board.
“I would say that I don’t know a lot of details of how the negotiating went with the teachers and the district. I would be coming to the board as someone separate from all of that,” Doyle said.
Doyle supports a facilities bond.
“Something like that has to be passed to take advantage of the dollars available in the state,” Doyle said. “It sounds pretty clear cut that our district could use some upgrades.”
Larry Green
“I have some experience they may not have. I’ve been with education pretty much all of my life, not just in teaching, but in leadership positions. I have been president of the Faculty Senate (at LTCC),” Green said. “I’ve been in the process. I have been to lots of board meetings and college meetings. I know how boards work.”
The 41-year-old Lake Tahoe Community College math instructor is married with a daughter in eighth grade.
Green is president elect of the California Community College Math Instructors Board. He becomes president at the end of the year.
Although he teaches, he said he would not be a puppet for the teachers. Instead, he believes his knowledge of numbers and having a doctorate in math would be a tremendous asset.
“I understand forecasting and budget forecasting,” Green said. “I’m very optimistic. I’ve looked at the (LTUSD) budget.”
He doesn’t blame either side for the contentious negotiations last school year.
“All sides could have come together to speed up the process. That’s why I am going to try to press for earlier negotiations,” Green said.
Other concerns he has are at the high school.
“I wouldn’t say we have a gang problem, but I want to make sure the efforts we worked on last year are continuing and that we don’t forget that safety is a priority,” Green said.
He admitted not knowing much about the proposed bond for 2008, but added he usually supports school bonds.
Lauri Kemper
“I don’t have a child in the district so I’m an advocate for all students,” Kemper said. “I want to foster an environment where students care for each other and the environment. I believe children are our future and I want to help them achieve the best possible future.”
The 45-year-old engineer with Lahontan Water Quality Control Board lives in Tahoe Paradise with her son and domestic partner.
Kemper believes her 22 years of working with boards and agencies has taught her how to facilitate meetings and collaborate with people. She had to resign as chair of the district’s Family Life Committee last school year because her son graduated in June and the parent rep must have a child in the district.
She believes there is room for improvement when it comes to open dialog among parents, teachers, students and administrators.
“I would like to build on the Green Academy that (Principal) Ivone Larson at the high school and a number of teachers have been talking about,” Kemper said.
Related to that is “teaming some of our resource experts in the basin with students” to educate kids about potential careers and make them aware of their environment here.
When it comes to negotiating with staff she thinks both sides need to sit down sooner to come up with priorities and make decisions together.
Before a bond goes to voters Kemper wants to ensure a prioritized list of needs for facilities is devised.
“I think it’s important to look at opportunities to maximize funding opportunities that are out there,” Kemper said.
Sue Novasel
“My No. 1 goal is to offer programs that kids and parents want to see in our district. Unfortunately our school system is 100 percent attached to being fiscally sound,” Novasel said. “Declining enrollment is going to cause problems. Some people don’t understand where money comes from and the limitations.”
The 51-year-old mother of two STHS grads lives with her husband in Meyers. She has a bachelor’s from UNR and in the last few years earned a certificate as a computer technician. Much of her time is spent volunteering at Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care, Boys and Girls Club and chairing the Meyers Roundtable.
She was first elected to the board in 2003.
“I think we have done a lot of great things and we are on the right track, but we have a ways to go,” Novasel. “I have been in the community for over 30 years. I feel I have a pulse on what our community wants for our kids.”
She points to the track at the middle school being dedicated this month, the duel-immersion program starting at Bijou this fall, the Independent Learning Academy and opening the magnet school as successes in the last four year.
“I think we have the budget in line and are doing the best we can. We are fiscally conservative. That is keeping the district solvent,” Novasel said.
Although the strife in the district was unsettling, she is proud a three-year contract was obtained with certificated and classified employees.
“As long as we have declining enrollment, it will be difficult to get our employees the pay raises they deserve,” Novasel said. “It’s a constant battle to save programs and pay teachers and staff enough money to stay in Tahoe.”
Because the state does not give enough money to maintain schools, Novasel believes a bond is the solution. She says the money would be a mix to maintain what the district has as well as add facilities that would allow more programs to be offered.
“Even though we closed two schools and reopened one, it takes a lot of money to maintain them,” Novasel said.
Jill Sanders
“I had some really great education growing up and had amazing teachers. The type where I remember things where they transformed my thought process as a kid,” Sanders said. “I want to give them what I was given as a kid … the path it led me on.”
Sanders, who turns 42 this month, is married with three kids in the district. She works as a Realtor for Century 21 and does Web design for Studio JLM.
She has taught art at the elementary level, but is frustrated by the limited amount of time she has to do so.
“My main focus is the arts – drama, music and PE. All those have been taken from the kids. It is difficult for me to watch,” Sanders said.
She wants higher standards, and questions passing students with 2.0 grade point averages from eighth to ninth grade. She questions why at open house last year a non-satirical essay titled “My Christmas Brake” was graded an A.
Sanders is a proponent of getting parents more involved in their children’s education. She believes the high test scores at the magnet school can be attributed to parental intervention.
“It’s been shown over time that latchkey kids grow up empty. A lot of it is the parenting,” Sanders said. She favors educating parents about what kids need to be happy, thriving individuals.
Sanders admits not knowing much about the bond proposal. She is for modernizing facilities, but wonders if current structures are being used to their maximum capability.
“The magnet school has a fantastic gym. It’s just used for lunch. You have this big space,” Sanders said. “(My daughter) was in portables at the middle school. It didn’t affect her either way. She was just happy learning.”

College board candidates

unedited Tahoe Mt. News Sept. story

LTCC incumbents face challengers

By Kathryn Reed

Four people are vying for two seats on the Lake Tahoe Community College board of education. Voters on Nov. 6 must choose between incumbents Ken Rollston and Fritz Wenck and newcomers Karen Borges and Bill Burns.
The five-member board is responsible for setting policy that affects the nearly 4,000 students the college teaches each quarter, as well as the 49 full-time faculty members, hundreds of adjunct instructors, throngs of classified staff and administrators.
Each candidate was interviewed by the Tahoe Mountain News. In alphabetical order, they are:
Karen Borges
The 50-year-old chiropractor is making her first foray into politics.
“I have new ideas to bring to the board and new enthusiasm. I want to see the college flourish,” Borges said. “The whole demographics of South Lake Tahoe is changing. We need to be ready to meet the needs of the population that is here and the population we can attract to come here.”
With declining enrollment being a factor at the college for the past several years, Borges believes it is time to promote the college, professors and support staff so the public has a better understanding of what is going on off Al Tahoe Boulevard.
She says this needs to be done so “a population other than just the high school age would have an interest in utilization of the college.” Borges believes a promotional campaign would lead to the college being held in “higher esteem.”
She is not certain if the college should employee a full time public information officer to spread the word.
To combat declining enrollment she wants to attract more adults to departments other than the popular physical education, build on what the board has done as well as offer more online classes because their proven popularity.
Student housing is another concern of hers. She expressed enthusiasm for the Alder Inn project that is in its first year. Hotel rooms have been turned into condo units to be shared by two people.
Borges is married with a daughter who graduated from South Tahoe High and another who attends the school.
“I think the college has been running and operating well. I have been an advocate for the college,” Borges said.
When it comes to talking about last year’s vote of no confidence for President Guy Lease, she said, “That circumstance has passed and we need to go forward.”
Bill Burns
The owner of Articulate Media, a multimedia production and performance company, earned his associate of arts degree in computers from LTCC. Burns, who turns 49 this month, started taking classes in what is now the Value Inn Motel before the college moved to its current, permanent location.
“From having worked in the college environment, having attended and graduated from the college, I understand the challenges the college has,” Burns said. “I understand the dynamics of the college environment and the dramatic changes in our community in the last 10 years.”
When he decided to run for the board he resigned as a computer technician at the college to avoid any conflicts.
“The biggest challenge is ensuring a quality student experience. It can be quite challenging because technology is advancing at such a rapid pace, it’s hard to keep up with that,” Burns said, adding that he believes the college has done well in that regard.
The 26-year South Shore resident lives in Meyers with his wife. His only child is a graduate of South Tahoe High.
“Their experience is being a board member. My experience is being involved on a weekly basis at the college,” Burns said of what sets him apart from the incumbents. “I have no experience as a board member, that’s why I devoured the board manual. Being a business person I don’t foresee there being any problems working on a professional level with any of them because that’s what we do in business.”
(The board manual is available at
He said communication skills are important for being a board member, with listening being the most critical.
“I have been told before by co-workers at the college that one of my strengths is to explain complex issues in a more simplified way,” Burns said. “As a computer guy, I have to take technical stuff so a person who is not technical can do their job.”
As for the issue with Lease and the faculty, he said he doesn’t know enough about the situation to comment and that as classified staff he wasn’t privy to what was going on.
Ken Rollston
The 62-year-old was first elected to the board in 1983, having been appointed in 1982.
When it comes to challenges for the next four years, he said, “The most important one is one I’m not going to talk about. It’s personal and confidential. I’m not going to talk to you.”
With that said, the attorney who lives in Meyers with his wife and has two grown children said he welcomes the additional names on the ballot.
“We have done a lot of things over the years. This is an opportunity to find out if we are headed in the right direction or need to go in a different direction. I think that’s what the election is going to be about,” Rollston said.
He is proud of how the college has grown. The size, he said, is uncommon for a town this small.
The trustee said much of the staff’s displeasure with Lease last year stemmed from the impacts to the college from declining enrollment.
“If you are not filling positions and not having funds available to do anything other than maintain, people become unhappy,” Rollston said. “I think we are beyond that now.”
Despite enrollment dipping at the two K-12 districts on the South Shore, the college gained slightly last school year, he said.
He said the board is always looking at ways to increase enrollment and improve the school, while maintaining funding.
Fritz Wenck
The 68-year-old dentist is one of two original board members still serving.
“There always remains unfinished business. We need to get the enrollment up, we need to get some student textbooks online, we need to get some storage facilities, we need to get some classrooms built,” Wenck said.
Wenck, who is married with several grown children, is thrilled that after 10 years of trying to get motel owners in town to convert their property to student housing, that the Alder Inn is doing so.
He believes the issue with Lease last year stemmed from issues related to declining enrollment. A physics instructor was laid off because not enough students were in the program. The financial stability of the college necessitated such action, he said. He went on to say that he would renew Lease’s contract without hesitation.
Wenck points to the success of programs like the Spanish Institute that he helped start as well as the Fire Academy which is in its second year.
“One of my philosophies is you have to protect the college, then look after the students, then take care of faculty and administration,” Wenck said. “I continue to be an active participant on the board and I feel like I’ve done a good job. I take pride in the affect the college has had on the cultural life of the community, providing students in the community a chance for education and for many adults to go back and relearn.”

Food Network focuses on Tahoe

unedited Tahoe Mt. News Sept. story

Food Network dines in South Lake

By Kathryn Reed

Tahoe’s culinary delights have come of age – just ask the Food Network.
A production crew was on the South and North shores in late August filming a segment of “Rachael Ray’s Tasty Travels” which is slated to air in January.
“It’s a great compliment considering she is so widely popular,” said Tyler Cannon, owner of Sprouts. “This is a pretty big deal. The Web exposure is even larger. It’s like Oprah (Winfrey’s) hot reading list. (Travelers) look at her list for places to eat.”
For two hours on Aug. 24 the crew shot footage at the local eatery – about an hour longer than what they had told Cannon to expect.
He had sent them a menu before their arrival, talked to them about popular as well as colorful dishes, and had his veteran staff preparing for the visit about four days in advance.
Cannon selected the Breakfast Special (a toasted bagel, onions, tomato, avocado, melted Jack cheese, organic egg salad, sprouts, salsa, guacamole and green onions), Nachos, Mexican Volcano (sesame chips, spinach, beans, cabbage, carrots, onions, tomatoes, sprouts, salsa, guacamole, green onions and honey mustard dressing) and the Tuna Burrito.
“One of the neatest things about Sprouts is the local feel. You don’t find it anyplace else in the country. They picked up on that,” said Cannon, who has run the joint for 17 years, admitting he was nervous before filming started.
Ray was not part of the crew. Cannon said she will do a voice-over for the show. The network employees stayed at the Marriott Grand Residence and visited a slew of spots around the Lake. Sightseeing included Emerald Bay and a ride on Heavenly’s Gondola.
They showed up at the Ketch at about 5:30 p.m. the same day to sample dinner fare. Chef Domi Chavarria whipped up a batch of Cioppino for the Food Network cameras, as well as Halibut with Coconut Fruit Salas and Fish Tacos. The latter has been a signature dish at the Ketch for eons.
“Cioppino is a good dish to be filmed making because a lot is going on there. The glazed pan gets a little flame, it’s a more theatrical dish,” Chavarria said. “I spent time making the dish and doing the interview. They cruised around the restaurant and interviewed customers.”

Breakout box:

The Food Network crew went to the following locations around the Lake:
• Heavenly Gondola
• Burger Lounge
• Fresh Ketch
• Zephyr Cove Stables
• Vex Nightclub
• Sprouts Natural Foods Café
• Naked Fish
• Fire Sign Café
• Sunnyside Restaurant & Lodge
• Jake’s on the Lake
• Gar Woods Grill & Pier Restaurant
• Lone Eagle Grille
• Log Cabin Café

Bike trail expands on South Shore

unedited Tahoe Mt. News Sept. article

Bike trail system expands in Meyers

By Kathryn Reed

Pump up the bike tires or lace up those walking shoes, another path officially opens this month on the South Shore.
El Dorado County Department of Transportation workers laid down the mile of trail faster than anticipated, having started the project in July. The trail begins at Santa Fe Road in Meyers and goes north to the entrance of Lake Tahoe Golf Course.
“A portion of this trail is a pilot project with the decking material to minimize impacts in the stream environmental zone,” explained Alfred Knotts, project manager and principle planner with the county transportation department. “The material is fiberglass.”
The 500-foot section paralleling Highway 50 complies with the American Disabilities Act mandate that grades be no more than 5 percent. It also allows light and precipitation to pass through it.
The California Tahoe Conservancy, which with the county and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, is a partner in the project, wanted to see how this type of elevated boardwalk would work in the basin.
This Class 1 trail connects to the Class 2 trail along Pioneer Trail as well as to the Pat Lowe Memorial Trail in Meyers that goes in front of Lira’s and on the other side of the highway by Meek’s. (A Class 2 trail is on the shoulder and is 4-feet wide. Lowe was a county supervisor.)
The current project, like the larger 9.6-mile South Lake Tahoe Greenway Bikeway that is in the planning stages, comes with a price tag of about $1 million per mile.
Ray Lacey, CTC deputy director, said the high cost is attributed to several factors. In the case of the bike path going in now, it is 8 feet wide to meet Caltrans requirements. Whereas, the Greenway trail will be 10-feet wide to meet American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials rules. Both will have 2 foot shoulders on each side to reduce conflicts with other trail users.
“These public works type projects go through sensitive areas and get very costly,” Lacey said. “When you think about a bike trail on solid earth, that’s relatively easy. When it’s a wet, sensitive area and you have to bridge or board them that costs more.”
Some bridges and boardwalks need to be vehicle rated to allow emergency vehicles access – which has been the case in trails in Truckee.
Adding to the cost is the skyrocketing price of materials – notably petroleum.
The second phase of the Meyers project will be completed next summer. That will go from the golf course to Sawmill Road.
By the end of the 2010 building season, county transportation crews will also have installed a trail going from Sawmill Road to Lake Tahoe Boulevard, and from Tahoe Mountain Road on Lake Tahoe Boulevard to the city limits.

Cole finally gives notice to school board

unedited Tahoe Mt. News Sept. story

By Kathryn Reed

As records go, Hal Cole would probably just assume forget the one involving the Lake Tahoe Unified School District. It’s hard to find someone else who had a shorter tenure on the school board.
Cole was sworn in March 27 to take over the seat Doug Forte gave up. Cole skipped the first meeting in April, showed up for the second one, and then was never seen again in the board room.
He kept telling people he was going to resign, but didn’t realize he had to put it in writing to make it official.
“I was just having a hard time writing the letter without sounding upset by the thing for self-pity or whatever,” Cole said Aug. 10, the day he handed board member Sue Novasel his resignation letter.
Cole had to decide between the school board and Barton Memorial Hospital’s board. He chose the latter to avoid a conflict of interest.
Months ago an attorney with the Lake Tahoe Unified School District ruled Cole could not serve on both boards. The decision is based on California Education Code.
“I wish I had known before I had applied for the job. Hindsight is 20-20,” Cole said.
Timing and laws dictate abandonment of office issues as well as how the board copes with a vacancy.
Dick Hamilton, with the California School Boards Association’s legal department, said a position needs to be vacant for three consecutive months for abandonment to be considered.
Superintendent Jim Tarwater described abandonment proceedings as a “pretty cumbersome process.”
Because Cole’s seat is on the Nov. 6 ballot, that played a huge in role in the decision to leave the chair empty. A school board does not have to fill the spot if a vacancy occurs within 120 days of the election.
Had Cole resigned in writing before July 7, his position would likely have been filled.
No harm has been done by operating with 80 percent capacity, according to Tarwater.
“Where you see impact is if you have a 2-2 board,” Tarwater said potential votes. “With four (members), you can still carry on business.”
Cole was eligible for his $20 stipend when he attended meetings. He never signed up for health benefits.

Teacher admits to porn charge

unedited Tahoe Mt. News September article

Gronwold pleads guilty to child porn

By Kathryn Reed

Karsten Gronwold will be spending the next eight years in a federal prison.
The Lake Tahoe Unified School District elementary schoolteacher pleaded guilty last month to possession of child pornography.
He will formally be sentenced Oct. 29. Which penitentiary the 50-year-old will spend the next eight years in is not known.
“I wouldn’t have (accepted the deal) if we weren’t satisfied,” said Timothy Zindel, assistant federal defender who represented Gronwold. Gronwold was not available for comment.
Zindel said his client is doing fine, but did not elaborate other than to say Gronwold wishes he weren’t behind bars.
The other nine counts against Gronwold were dismissed in the plea arrangement.
Gronwold was arrested Sept. 1, 2006, at his Meyers home. Investigators seized hundreds of photographs of children, mostly boys between the ages of 6 months and 12 years old. Some of the boys either are or were students in the local school district.
The local district attorney’s office plans to file one count of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child against Gronwold before the sentencing.
“Most likely the way the system works is we won’t get him until after he finishes his federal commitment unless he makes an application to do so,” said Lisa Sarafini, El Dorado County assistant district attorney.
Gronwold was hired by the district in 1990. Gronwold’s wife, Cindy, still teaches in LTUSD and their two children go to area schools.
The district will proceed with the termination process once Gronwold is sentenced, according to Beth Delacour, human resources director. In the mean time, he continues to be on unpaid administrative leave.
It is possible Gronwold could resign, which would speed up the process of being able to permanently fill his position.
According to Delacour, his arrest and subsequent guilty plea have not led to any hiring changes in the district. Live-scan fingerprints and background checks have always been the norm to weed out people who have been convicted of crimes.

CTC develops sensitive area

unedited Tahoe Mt. News article from September:

Conservancy taking over Elks property

By Kathryn Reed

Expect the Elks’ Lodge to disappear before winter arrives.
The California Tahoe Conservancy board unanimously gave the OK on Aug. 13 to purchase the 3.07 acres at Elks Club Drive and Highway 50 for $2.2 million. Elks Club Lodge No. 2094 has owned the property for more than 40 years, though the Conservancy has eyed it for 13 years.
Part of the deal is the Elks will remove the 5,600-square-foot lodge before escrow closes, which is expected by mid-November.
Money for the acquisition comes from the Conservancy’s Stream Environmental Zone and Public Access-Recreation programs.
A benefit to the land acquisition is that it comes with 83,725 square feet of coverage and eight sewer units. Those rights are sellable.
The flea market is expected to operate through its usual Oct. 31 closing date. Discussions are under way to keep the market there while planning goes, which could be a couple years. This could generate $20,000 a year in income for the CTC.
The property is right on the Upper Truckee River. During the floods of 2005 the current parking lot was under water, with the structure looking much like an island.
“I think after restoration we would hope some of the ground will be lower so seasonally high groundwater enters the area more regularly,” said Bruce Eisner, program manager with CTC. “We could change the parking lot. It would make sense to be closer to the road than closer to the river. We need the hydrologists and other ologists to say what it should look like in the long term.”
What it will cost to improve and upkeep the site depends on what it is used for. That decision is likely to take a couple years – public comment and environmental documents are necessary components to future development.
CTC officials expect two-thirds of the acreage to be converted to wetlands and floodplain restoration. The remaining land would be improved for better public access to the river.
It’s possible the South Tahoe Greenway bike path could intersect there, which may require the Elks site to be converted into a trailhead with better parking and public restrooms.
At the meeting last month, board Chairman Larry Sevison, who represents Placer County, brought up the possibility of looking into a commercial rafting enterprise at the river much like what is done in Tahoe City.
It was noted that the flow of water into Tahoe City portion of the Truckee is regulated by the water master in Reno via the dam, whereas on the South Shore it’s up to Mother Nature to dictate the flow.
“It seems like the season would be so short and you would be introducing a level of use that is quite a bit different than what has historically occurred,” Eisner said after the meeting.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Assemblyman talks defensible space


SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Ted Gaines, R-Roseville, announced today that he held three successful town hall meetings during the last two weeks in Auburn, South Lake Tahoe and Placerville, updating local residents on fire protection efforts and educating them about the importance of building defensible space around their homes and businesses.

“Our town hall meetings helped get the message out about the great efforts that fire officials are making to protect our region against a future devastating fire,” said Gaines. “It is also important that local residents do their part to prevent future fires, and our town halls presented a great opportunity to underscore that building defensible space really does make a difference when trying to control and stop wildfires from destroying our communities.”

The town hall meetings featured speakers from the California Department of Forestry and Fire (CAL FIRE), United States Forest Service, local Fire Protection Districts and Fire Safe Councils. Fire officials spoke about all the efforts that are being done to protect their communities from fire destruction and what people can do to help them prevent future disasters.

“The Assemblyman’s meeting was informative and very productive. The panel provided useful information for citizens on how they can individually and collectively improve their defensible space at home and their neighborhoods,” said Kathay Lovell, Mayor of the City of South Lake Tahoe.

“Preventing catastrophic fire is a team effort involving homeowners, businesses and all levels of government. The fire forum helped convey to Auburn residents the various ways in which we can work together as a team to save lives and our homes,” said Kevin Hanley, Chair of the Greater Auburn Fire Safer Council. Hanley is also an Auburn City Council Member.

“I was pleased to see hundreds of constituents turn out to learn more about the issue of fire protection and I look forward to working together with fire officials and local residents to keep our community safe,” said Assemblyman Gaines.

Assemblyman Ted Gaines represents the 4th Assembly District, which includes portions of Placer, El Dorado, Sacramento & Alpine Counties.

Monday, September 24, 2007

SLT's stance of firefighter unrest


September 10, 2007

David Jinkens
City Manager and Director of Emergency Services
(530) 542-6045


The City Council and City management support and care about public safety providers and the safety of the community. City officials have worked long and hard to improve pay, benefits, training, equipment, and working conditions for public employees even during challenging fiscal times and to ensure that the properties within the South Tahoe area are made safe from catastrophic fire and other emergencies. But as we all know from our daily lives, there are always more needs than money.

We are working hard to improve and diversify the local economy, create more local jobs, attract more businesses and retail to town. Improving South Lake Tahoe’s economy will benefit both residents and employees. Only economic growth can provide the sustained means to further improve conditions for employees and the community. The job is not easy and there are budget and regulatory constraints that we face, but we will persevere, and we will be successful.

Recently, the South Lake Tahoe Fireman’s Association exercised its right to express opinions and concerns about working conditions and the status of the labor negotiation process. The City supports free speech. This is a very American thing to do. It is important that all information about the issues raised by the Association be brought into public view and evaluated.

I asked City staff closest to the issue and our labor negotiator to review the recent Fire Association written and published comments. The following is what they provided to me. Written statements made by the Association are italicized and additional information from the City follows.

The City looks forward to continuing our labor agreement negotiations in good faith with recognized representatives of the Fire Association. We will work diligently and in a professional manner to bring these discussions to a successful conclusion. We all want the best for them and for our community within our financial means.

“The South Lake Tahoe City Council decided their special interests are more important than you public safety.”

• From 2002 to 2007, the City increased public safety funding 23% while non-safety general fund expenditures had to be reduced.

”Your fire engines only have a driver and captain; no firefighters.”

• Drivers – also known as Firefighter-Engineers – and Captains are firefighters serving in higher ranks. Drivers and Captains participate in firefighting and the other public safety services provided by the Fire Department to the community.

• A two person engine crew is standard operating procedure for many Lake Tahoe fire departments including our neighbors at Lake Valley, the Tahoe-Douglas Fire Protection District, Meeks Bay Fire Protection District and the North Tahoe Fire Protections District.

“The City took our firefighters off the engines. We need them back.”

• Several years ago, the Firefighters Association did not object to move a firefighter from each engine to ambulances. These firefighters remain on the payroll and continue to provide service to the City. This gives the City the ability to provide both firefighting and paramedic / Advanced Life Support Ambulance services to the community.

• 68% of the Fire Department’s emergency responses are medical calls. Responding to these emergencies with ambulances enables the Fire Department to have an ambulance immediately on-scene to be able to transport a patient to the hospital.

“22 of the last 50 fire personnel hired have left your fire department due to working conditions, living requirements, and less than comparable wages.”

• The average South Lake Tahoe Firefighter earned $53,426.00 in 2006. The average South Lake Tahoe Fire Captain earned $73,446.00 in 2006. These amounts include overtime and various incentive pays.

• Fire Department employees receive City-paid PPO health insurance.

• Fire Department employees can retire at age 50 with a guaranteed, lifetime pension and a City-paid retiree health care benefit (amount City pays depends on length of service).

• Fire Department employees live within a defined zone around the City so that they can promptly respond to emergencies. This zone extends from Truckee to Carson City to Gardnerville providing employees a wide-range of living choices. California law permits cities to create these safety zones for public safety employees.

• Recent Fire Department turnover includes 8 retirements and 3 terminations by the Department.

“Your fire department is the training ground for firefighter-paramedics who leave for other departments. Is your family’s life worth constant trainee turnover?”

• 12 firefighters resigned City employment for other agencies primarily located in the San Francisco Bay Area or the Sacramento area. The majority of these firefighters were newer employees hired from these areas.

• In 2006, the Fire Department and Lake Tahoe Community College proudly opened a fire academy training program. The Academy currently has 31 eager participants. These home-grown firefighters will provide the back-bone for the South Lake Tahoe Fire Department and other local departments for the foreseeable future.

• The City currently has 17 candidates on a hiring list ready to be South Lake Tahoe Firefighters.

“Don’t wait for another Angora Fire. Two man engine companies are unsafe and ineffective.”

• The City’s engine companies – along with all of the other fine firefighters who protected our community – worked in groups of varying sizes during the Angora fire. These groups were both highly effective and safe. There were no serious Firefighter or citizen injuries during the Angora fire.

• Establishing 3 person engine crews is a long-term Fire Department goal. 3 person engine crews would provide even greater flexibility than the current 2 person crews.

Arnold and climate change


Monday, September 24, 2007 Gov. Schwarzenegger Gives Address at United Nations on Climate Change

Putting California 's leadership in the fight against climate change on a world stage, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today gave a speech (see text below) to official delegates and invited guests of the United Nations.

In July, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon invited the Governor to speak at today's special session when they toured a San Jose business that is developing the technology for countries to help reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

The Secretary-General has stated that he looks forward to seeing firsthand how California is leading the world on the important issue of climate change. Demand for clean tech products in the state is expected to reach more than $200 billion by 2020 and California has already received more than $1.1 billion in clean tech investment, which is expected to grow 20 to 30 percent a year for the next decade.

Earlier this year, Governor Schwarzenegger signed a Memorandum of Understanding with four other states to partner in the fight against climate change, which created the Western Climate Initiative. The original states included Arizona , California , New Mexico , Oregon and Washington ; Utah and the Canadian provinces of Manitoba and British Columbia have also since joined. California has also formed partnerships with Great Britain and the Australian State of Victoria .

In October of 2006, Governor Schwarzenegger and New York Gov. George E. Pataki agreed to explore ways to link California 's future greenhouse gas emission credit market and the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states ' Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) upcoming market. RGGI (pronounced ReGGIe) is a cooperative effort by Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states to discuss the design of a regional cap-and-trade program initially covering carbon dioxide emissions from power plants in the region. In the future, RGGI may be extended to include other sources of greenhouse gas emissions, and greenhouse gases other than CO2. Currently, Connecticut , Delaware , Maine , New Hampshire , New Jersey , New York , Maryland and Vermont are participating in the RGGI effort.

In January of 2007, Governor Schwarzenegger announced the world's first Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) for transportation fuels that requires fuel providers to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels sold in California . This first-of-its kind standard establishes lasting demand for lower-carbon fuels but without favoring one fuel over another. By 2020 the standard is expected to boost demand for low carbon fuels to over $10 billion per year and for advanced technology vehicles that run on those fuels by 35 times.

Last year, the Governor signed the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, California 's landmark bill that established a first-in-the-world comprehensive program of regulatory and market mechanisms to achieve real, quantifiable, cost-effective reductions of greenhouse gases. The law will reduce carbon emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020. The Governor's goals also include a reduction of 80 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2050.

The Governor also signed legislation last year to complete his Million Solar Roofs Plan to provide 3,000 megawatts of additional clean energy and reduce the output of greenhouse gases by 3 million tons, equivalent to taking one million cars off the road. The $2.9 billion incentive plan for homeowners and building owners who install solar electric systems will lead to one million solar roofs in California by the year 2018.

In addition, the Governor is leading the fight to obtain a waiver from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency allowing the implementation of California 's stringent tailpipe emissions standards signed into law in 2002. Those standards require a 30 percent reduction in greenhouse gases from the tailpipes of cars and light trucks by 2016, starting with the 2009 model year. 11 other states have approved those standards. Automakers have sought to nullify them, but in April, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and more recently, a federal judge in Vermont has decided in favor of that state's emissions standards, which are modeled on California 's.

Below is the prepared text of the Governor's speech at the United Nations:

Mr. Secretary, Mr. President distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen, I have come to feel great affection for the peoples of the world because they have always been so welcoming to me-whether as a bodybuilder, a movie star or a private citizen.

And you, their delegates, have also made me feel very welcome this morning.

So thank you for this honor.

I have been asked to talk to you today about what is happening in California .

Ladies and gentlemen, something remarkable is beginning to stir-something revolutionary, something historic and transformative.

Let me give you some background. California already leads the nation in information technology.

We lead the nation in nanotechnology, in medical technology, in biotechnology.

We generate one of every four U.S. patents.

We attract almost half of all U.S. venture capital.

According to The Economist magazine, California is also home to three of the top six universities in the world.

In addition to all of this, California is the seventh largest economy in the world.

I do not mention these things simply to boast.

I mention them because when California does something, it has consequences.

And here is what we are doing.

California is mobilizing-technologically, financially and politically-to fight global climate change.

Now, we are not alone.

While California is leading in the U.S. , we are building on the work of the European countries who have led the way up to now.

England has already met its Kyoto goals. Germany has pioneered solar. The EU has led with its trading system.

But California , because of its unique position, is on the cutting edge of what is to come.

And what is coming will benefit the countries and peoples represented in this chamber.

Last year in California , we enacted groundbreaking greenhouse gas emission standards.

We enacted the world's first low carbon fuel standard.

Do I believe California 's standards will solve global warming? No.

What we're doing is changing the dynamic, preparing the way and encouraging the future.

The aerospace industry built the modern economy of Southern California .

The computer industry and the Internet built the economy of Silicon Valley .

And now green, clean technology-along with biotech-will take California to the next level.

Right now, in California , the brightest scientists from around the world and the smartest venture capitalists are racing to find new energy technologies, and the solutions to global warming.

It's a race fueled by billions of dollars.

Last year alone, California received more than $1.1 billion in clean tech investment.

This amount is expected to grow 20-30% a year for a decade.

More venture capital is being invested in clean tech than in telecommunications.

I have been in the labs and research parks.

I have talked to the scientists and venture capitalists.

I have seen their ambition. And I would not bet against it.

So, what does all this mean for the nations in this chamber?

The cell phone, which started as a tool for the rich, is now widespread in the developing world.

The price has dropped dramatically.

The same thing will happen with environmental technologies.

And it is in the developed world's best interests to help the poor nations finance these advancements.

When it comes to the environment, the technologies are changing; the economics are changing; the urgency is changing.

My question today is this: are the nations of the world ready to change?

I believe California will do great things, amazing things. But we need the world to do great things, too.

The time has come to stop looking back at the Kyoto protocol.

It is time to stop looking back in blame or suspicion.

The consequences of global climate change are so pressing, it doesn't matter who was responsible for the past.

What matters is who is answerable for the future. And that means all of us.

The rich nations and the poor nations have different responsibilities, but one responsibility we all have is action.

The current stalemate between the developed and the developing worlds must be broken.

It is time we came together in a new international agreement that can be embraced by rich and poor nations alike.

California is moving the United States beyond debate and doubt to action.

I urge this body to push its members to action also.

Ladies and gentlemen, in closing, do not lose hope.

Do not believe that doom and gloom and disaster are the only outcomes.

Humanity is smart, and nature is amazingly regenerative.

I believe we can renew the climate of this planet.

And I pledge to you, the members of the United Nations, that we in California will work with all our heart to this end for which we all long.

Thank you very much.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Angora -- grading permit info

(South Lake Tahoe, CA)—In collaboration with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, El Dorado County is providing a new permit option to Angora Fire victims wanting to get a jump-start on home reconstruction.

On Monday, September 24, 2007 the County Building Services Department will make TRPA-approved grading-only permits available for properties affected by the Angora Fire. The grading-only permit will allow homeowners to complete foundation excavation work before the October 15 end-of-grading season in the Tahoe Basin. TRPA also made a commitment to extend the grading season deadline for affected homeowners in the Angora burn area based on weather conditions to help in the re-building effort.

In order to minimize erosion and protect water quality, the TRPA Code of Ordinances only allows major digging between May 1 and October 15 each year. Soil disturbance during the wet weather season is restricted.

“The County wants to ensure that residents who want to rebuild now have the opportunity to move dirt before the deadline precludes them from doing so,” said Greg Fuz, County Development Services Director. “Through this new option, a homeowner will be able to start excavation almost immediately, even before submitting a building permit application or complete plans for reconstruction.”

Additional El Dorado County and TRPA staff will be available at the County Building Services office at 3368 Lake Tahoe Blvd. to provide over-the-counter review and approval for expedited excavation. There is no fee for grading-only permits.

Submittal requirements for the grading-only permit include a site plan, grading calculations, coverage calculations for future development, as well as signed pre-grading inspection and site winterization forms. The site plan must also indicate trenching sufficient to accommodate all necessary public utilities. A complete building permit application package and an approved building permit will still be required in order to pour any foundations. Eligibility for grading-only permits is limited to sites with excavation of less than five feet in depth. A summary of submittal requirements is available at

“TRPA wants to help make the reconstruction process as smooth as possible,” said Julie Regan, TRPA Communications and Legislative Affairs Chief. “We are working both internally and with the County to do what it takes to help those fire victims who want to re-build this year.”


Bi-state fire commish meets Sept. 21

Nevada-California Fire Commission holds second meeting

Carson City— Governor Jim Gibbons announced that the Nevada-California Fire Commission's second meeting is being held today at the General Improvement District Chateau in Incline Village , Nevada . The Commission's purpose is to conduct a comprehensive overview of forest management in the Lake Tahoe Basin , including the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

Two committee groups focusing on forest fuels and homeowner and community protection will meet today following the meeting held by the full commission. The committee groups were created on September 10, 2007 to evaluate environmental and community needs.

WHAT: Nevada-California Fire Commission meeting

WHERE: General Improvement District Chateau

955 Fairway Boulevard

Incline Village , Nevada
DATE: Friday, September 21, 2007

TIME: 9:00 a.m. – Approx 2:00 p.m.

Sept. 25 defensible space meeting

SACRAMENTO – Assemblyman Ted Gaines (R-Roseville) today announced that he will be holding two Fire Protection and Defensible Space Town Hall Meetings to discuss what people can do and what is being done to protect their communities from fire destruction. Members of the public are invited to attend and comment following the presentations.

WHO:Assemblyman Ted Gaines, California Department of Forestry and Fire (CALFIRE),United States Forest Service, And Local Fire Departments from the Surrounding Area

WHAT: Town Hall forums to address fire protection and defensible space techniques, as well as what can be done to prevent fire destruction.

WHERE: South Lake Tahoe, Lake Tahoe Community College, Aspen room, 1 College Dr, Tuesday, September 25, 2007 , 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Placerville, Town Hall, 549 Main St, Wednesday, September 26, 2007, 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Bi-state fire commish meets

For Immediate Release: September 10, 2007

Carson City – The joint Nevada-California Lake Tahoe Basin Fire Commission convened for the first time today at the Lake Tahoe Community College to conduct a comprehensive overview of forest management in the Lake Tahoe Basin , including the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. The meeting began early this morning and adjourned just after 5:30 p.m. PDT.

“The aggressive schedule set during today’s meeting is the first of many positive and necessary steps toward the creation of improved forest management policy in the Lake Tahoe Basin ,” said Governor Gibbons. “I want to thank the members of the commission for taking time out of their personal schedules to participate in these discussions. Their efforts, as well as the participation from local residents, will ultimately produce historic changes to the practices that currently dictate forest health and fuels management.”

During today’s meeting, the commission received testimony from local residents as well as the Tahoe Regional Planning Association. Following the testimony, the commission came together and formed two committee groups that will focus on forest fuels, and homeowner and community protection.

“We all share the same the goal, a healthy and vibrant Lake Tahoe Basin ,” Governor Gibbons added. “However, this goal can only be achieved through proven practices and sound science.”

The second commission meeting is scheduled for September 21st. Committee meetings will also be held on the 21st prior to the commission’s full meeting. A third commission meeting is scheduled for mid October.