A Tahoe resident’s perspective on radical environmentalism:
Here I sit, looking down at lovely Lake Tahoe, but also looking down the hill at the fir forest growing ever thicker and more deadly. Fires always burn uphill. If a fire ever starts at the bottom of our hill, we’ll have 10 minutes to escape before the one road out is cut off by the fire. Behind my home, it’s nearly impossible to hike off trail because you have to wade through knee-deep piles of dead branches.
The forest is ready to explode. We have too many trees, but no one dares do anything about it.
Plenty of ingredients during the past 150 years have fueled the fire that has denuded hillsides at Lake Tahoe. Gold Rush clear-cutting. Home and ski resort development. Mismanagement of the ecosystem.
But sometimes lost in the discussion is another key ingredient: the legal, political and bureaucratic battle between old and new conservationists. This war has led to policy paralysis — and the forests and the fire danger keep growing.
In Tahoe, the situation is exacerbated by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (known locally as the Tree Nazis). The agency’s rules override fire marshal guidelines and generally make desperately needed tree thinning impossible. Unless you go through an insanely complex, expensive and lengthy permit process, you can’t touch a tree that’s larger than 6 inches in diameter, even if it’s next to your house. And 6- to 12-inch firs are exactly the type of tree that is the greatest fire danger.
It’s an interesting choice: Listen to the fire marshal and save your home and your life, or risk being bankrupted by lawyers of the Tahoe planning agency. Why the agency has been so reluctant to allow more tree cutting is hard to understand.
A major fire is the worst possible environmental event: It would destroy both the land and the lake. How many homes and lives must be lost before we stop building the Tahoe Funeral Pyre?
Good question. Unfortunately, radical environmentalists don’t seem to care about people’s lives or their homes.