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 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.
Among many effects of the drought, low water levels at Lake Tahoe are forcing marina owners to dredge to maintain boat access.
The US Forest Service says falling numbers of spawning fish in streams around Lake Tahoe appear to be the result of climate change.
The South Lake Tahoe City Council today approved a budget today that includes dramatic spending cuts.