Forest Schafer is the Forester for North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection district.
“And our fuels conditions are predicting a serious fire season where we could have some catastrophic wildfire.”
He says fire agencies in the area are trying to hire more staff, but that’s difficult. The agencies are owed hundreds of thousands in federal funds that were frozen when the Nevada Fire Safe Council went bankrupt three years ago. North Lake for instance is down 39 fuels reduction staff.
Chief Michael Brown wants the federal funds released so he can hire back staff.
“We met our obligations, those grants were awarded to our fire districts and those grant monies should come back to the fire districts to help us offset our costs for what we had to pay out of our general fund.”
More than 50 businesses, homeowners and fire agencies claim they are owed federal funds. They include the California Fire Safe Council, Meeks Bay, Sierra and Tahoe-Douglas fire protection districts.
The United States Department of Agriculture says January is shaping up to be another dry month in the Lake Tahoe area and that signals an unprecedented fourth year of drought.
Temperature records are falling around Lake Tahoe and that is melting ski areas.
Four Lake Tahoe Ski Resorts are opening this weekend and one of them is proposing a new program for low-income children.
The drought has caused contamination and the closure of some groundwater wells at South Lake Tahoe.
Over the weekend, the first two Sierra ski areas opened. The National Ski Area’s Association expects this to be a record year for attendance nationwide.