Severe drought has the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency emphasizing efforts to prevent a catastrophic wildfire. Now, the agency is making it easier to cut down trees, increasing size limits and delegating authority to fire agencies.
Last week the TRPA’s Jeff Cowen says forest management got easier with a new on-line permitting process for property owners.
“Kind of honoring and respecting that people have better things to do with their time and that many of our property owners don’t even live here," says Cowen.
Cowen says there is more urgency now because the drought is weakening trees. Dryer trees are more suseptile to bark beetles and dead trees increase fire danger.
By cutting down live trees others get more water and have a better defense against beetles. The TRPA expects the beetle infestation around Tahoe to worsen next year, which will increase the fire danger.
Jon Zellmer, who works with a tree removal service in South Lake Tahoe, expects to get more calls from homeowners -- especially people who don’t live in the area -- about removing trees.
"The online thing is going to be great for them and it's going to make our job easier too, to make this a healthier forest around here," says Zellmer.