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.
Tourism in North Lake Tahoe is rising dramatically even in the drought. Hotel occupancy was up 8 percent last weekend over the same period last year according to the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association.
The early closure of snowless ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe area has affected businesses and people... and not in good ways.
It would not be an odd sight in the spring. But there is something depressing about a closed ski slope in the middle of winter. The trails are bare and grassy. The chairlifts just hang there, waving a little with the breeze.
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.