Bill Requiring State Parks to Follow Local Fire Rules Clears First Committee
Legislation that would help prevent catastrophic wildfires by limiting open fires in state park campgrounds was approved unanimously last week by the state Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee.
Senate Bill 1012, by state Sens. Steve Glazer (D-Contra Costa) and Jim Nielsen (R-Red Bluff), would require state parks to enforce rules on open fires that are at least as restrictive as limits adopted by the fire department or fire district within whose boundaries the park is located.
Under current law, state park campgrounds are exempt from local fire protection ordinances.
At times in recent years, state parks have allowed visitors to build open fires at their campsites while residents living within sight of the parks were prohibited from having fires or even backyard barbecues to reduce the risk of wildfires. These inconsistent rules can lead to confusion that makes it more difficult for local fire agencies to enforce their restrictions in residential areas.
It is also dangerous to allow open fires during fire season. Fires in campgrounds can jump their fire pits, and even when a fire is contained, embers can fly for miles before landing on dry brush or timber, sparking a potentially massive fire.
“This common-sense legislation provides clarity to campers and residents alike by requiring the state to respect the local and regional firefighters who are on the front lines preventing wildfires,” Glazer said. “These fires can kill people and animals, destroy property, and consume thousands of acres of wildlands, and we should do all we can to prevent them.”
Nielsen said the bill is a straightforward fire-prevention measure that respects local control.
Although the state park superintendent for the Sierra district recently pledged to work more closely with local fire agencies, Glazer said the state should be required to follow the local districts’ lead. He also said that while the current administration may be willing to adopt such a policy, SB 1012 is needed so that future state officials continue to abide by it.
SB 1012 passed the committee on a bipartisan 8-0 vote. It now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
~ Office of State Sen. Steve Glazer press release
NV Energy Foundation Grant Will Support Wildfire Preparedness in Nevada
As the climate warms, wildfires in the Sierra Nevada are happening at unprecedented sizes and intensities, threatening communities and resources throughout Nevada and California. For fire managers trying to understand and predict fire behavior, access to accurate information for decision-making has never been more important.
A generous grant from the NV Energy Foundation will provide $150,000 to support Desert Research Institute’s development of a weather and research forecast advanced modeling tool that simulates weather, fire, and smoke for firefighting and prescribed fire operations. Forecasts and simulations produced by this model will be available to NV Energy’s fire mitigation team, and other professionals from the prescribed fire and air quality communities in Nevada and California through the work of the California and Nevada Smoke and Air Committee.
Funds from the new NV Energy Foundation grant will be used to expand the current high-performance computer system that is used by CANSAC. The system will provide an interface where users such as prescribed fire managers can conduct simulations of fire spread and smoke behavior.
The model will allow for risk assessment of specific locations by modeling different burn scenarios, help meteorologists identify small-scale wind flows that could have adverse effects on fire spread and behavior, and provide critical air quality forecasts for wildfires or burn day decisions. Simulations can be run for near future forecasting (a few days out) or longer-term scenario modeling for projects that might occur a year or more into the future.
This project is supported by additional funds from the state of Nevada’s Capacity Building Program and DRI internal funding.
~ DRI press release
Nevada’s First Annual Food Waste Awareness Month
The Nevada Division of Environmental Protection and local partners are excited to kick off the first-ever Nevada Food Waste Awareness Month this April. Throughout the month, NDEP and partner organizations will host a series of events and community outreach activities focused on best practices for buying, storing, and composting food to protect the environment while helping to reduce grocery costs for Nevada families.
“Food waste is the largest source of household waste that makes its way into Nevada’s landfills,” said Daren Winkelman, chief of NDEP’s Bureau of Sustainable Materials Management. “Food waste impacts more than just your wallet; the methane released by rotting food contributes to harmful greenhouse gas emissions. Taking simple steps to reduce food waste can add up to big improvements for our environment and maintain Nevada’s leadership in creating clean, healthy, and vibrant communities.”
The month-long campaign will commence on Friday, April 1, with a webinar hosted by NDEP: “Food Waste 101.” This will be an introduction to what food waste is, why it matters, where it occurs, and how to prevent it.
Some of the benefits of addressing food waste include:
- Save Money: By limiting the amount of food that gets thrown away, your family can save thousands of dollars a year.
- Support Nevadans in Need: If you have extra food at home, consider donating it to a local food bank or shelter to support Nevada families and children experiencing food insecurity.
- Conserve Resources: Keeping food out of landfills helps lower greenhouse gas pollution, and composting food scraps can help make healthy soil for your garden.
Partner organizations will also be hosting events to help inform Nevadans about the importance of limiting food waste. For a complete list of events, please visit the Nevada Recycles website at bit.ly/3J5q8nn.
~ Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Bidders Sought for Phase Two of Spooner Frontcountry Improvement Project
The Nevada Division of State Parks is pleased to announce the launch of the bidding process for the second phase of the park’s Spooner Frontcountry Improvement Project, which involves redesign and replacement of parking facilities, creation of new picnic facilities and trails, installation of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, expansion of the park maintenance facility, and other improvements.
This project is a collaborative effort between the Nevada Division of State Parks, the Nevada Division of State Lands, the Nevada Tahoe Resource Team, and the Tahoe Fund. The new and updated facilities at Spooner Lake will expand and improve the opportunities available to park visitors from around the world.
Bid proposals will be accepted at the Nevada Division of State Parks office until April 6 at 2 p.m., at which time submitted bids will be publicly opened. For detailed project and bidding information, please email the project manager, Kevin Sellstrom, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional information on the Spooner Lake Improvement Project, as well as other projects in the Tahoe Basin, visit tahoefund.org.
~ Nevada Division of State Parks press release
This Fourth of July, Drones Instead of Fireworks
NORTH LAKE TAHOE
After a two-year Independence Day fireworks hiatus to reduce Covid-19 transmission, North Lake Tahoe will resume its celebrations this year in a new way. The North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, North Tahoe Business Association, and Tahoe City Downtown Association announced on March 31 that drone light shows will be part of the Independence Day celebrations on July 3 in Kings Beach and the Fourth of July in Tahoe City in place of traditional pyrotechnic fireworks displays.
“Celebrating Independence Day with entertaining light shows continues to be important to our communities, however, our priority is to balance that intention with the need to take care of Lake Tahoe and reduce the risks that lit fireworks pose,” said Tony Karwowski, NLTRA CEO. “The decision to move forward with drone light shows in Kings Beach and Tahoe City has widespread community support and is well aligned with our region’s commitment to environmental sustainability and destination stewardship. We are excited to support something new, and will gather community feedback after the shows to determine the level of satisfaction with the new celebration.”
The drone light shows, coordinated by professional aerial starlight production vendor Great Lakes Drone Company, will feature custom performances up to 15 minutes in length and choreographed to music. Both will take place over Lake Tahoe, with over 100 drones taking off from and returning to shore at the conclusion of the shows. The shows will be just one part of the events and activities planned in North Lake Tahoe in celebration of the July 4 holiday.
In addition to eliminating the risk of fire and environmental pollution in the lake and watershed, another significant benefit of the drone light shows is their reduced audio impact on domestic pets and local wildlife.
Utilizing a combination of Transient Occupancy Tax and Tourism Business Improvement District dollars, the shows are made possible by a presenting sponsorship from the NLTRA and will be produced by the two local business associations. The drone light shows will take place at the Kings Beach State Recreation Area on July 3 in collaboration with the NTBA, and at Commons Beach in Tahoe City on July 4 in partnership with the TCDA.
Learn more about the festivities planned in North Lake Tahoe to celebrate Independence Day at gotahoenorth.com.
~ NLTRA, NTBA, TCDA press release
Co-Executive Directors Take Helm at Tahoe Food Hub
Susie Sutphin, founder of Tahoe Food Hub, is moving into a senior advisor role at the organization and resigning as executive director. She and the TFH board are proud to announce Marissa Yakaitis and Peter Lehmkuhl as the new co-executive director team.
Sutphin founded the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Tahoe Food Hub in 2012 after a year-long independent study on local food systems. Over the past 10 years, she has guided the organization in creating a network of diverse, family farms throughout the Sierra Nevada to increase access to local food for North Lake Tahoe. As the organization has grown, she has developed the Farm to Market, Giving Box, Farmer Resiliency, and Farm to School programs. It is an exciting time for the food hub to reach this milestone in new leadership, representing the sustainability of the local food system that the nonprofit has worked so hard to build. Together, Yakaitis and Lehmkuhl make a dynamic team to lead the TFH into its next chapter.
Yakaitis joined TFH in 2019 as the program director after moving here from Vermont where she ran a similar program. Lehmkuhl joined in March 2020 as the operations director after managing the Claire Tappaan Lodge for 15 years. They are excited to bring their visions together to build on the organization’s strong foundation.
Visit the TFH website to learn more about its programs and services that benefit the Truckee/Tahoe community, tahoefoodhub.org.
~ TFH press release
County Seeking Applicants to Serve on Planning Commission, Board of Adjustment
Washoe County is recruiting for two positions for the planning commission: one to represent District 1 and one to represent at-large north of the river.
The Washoe County Planning Commission hears and decides on applications for abandonments, certain special use permits, and tentative subdivisions; the commission also makes recommendations concerning the county’s master plan, regulatory zone changes, and county’s land use regulations. These appointments are to fill a four-year term in the unincorporated portion of the Washoe County commission districts commencing July 1 through June 30, 2026.
The county is also seeking someone to fill a four-year term on the board of adjustment, which hears and decides on applications for land use issues. This appointment fills a four-year term in the unincorporated portion of the Commission District 1 for the same timespan as the planning commission appointments.
Unincorporated District 1 generally includes Incline Village and Crystal Bay, most of the Southwest Truckee Meadows area and portions of the forest area along the west side of Mt. Rose Highway. Unincorporated North of the River includes areas of unincorporated county north of the Truckee River.
Applicants for the planning commission and board of adjustment must be residents of unincorporated Washoe County and the area from which they are to be appointed as described above and per this map. They must also be registered voters, though the voter registration requirement may be waived by the Washoe County Board of Commissioners.
The planning commission regularly meets the first Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. in the Washoe County Commission Chambers. The board of adjustment also meets the first Tuesday of each month, at 1:30 p.m. in the chambers. Meetings for both average two to three hours in duration. At times, special meetings of the commission or board may be called by the chair. Each member of the planning commission is compensated $80 per meeting attended.
To apply online, visit washoecounty.gov/citizens/board_opportunities.php and click on relevant announcement. You can also obtain an application from the Washoe County Community Services Department, Planning & Building Division, 1001 East Ninth St., in Reno. The deadline to apply is Wednesday, April 20, at 5 p.m.
~ Washoe County press releases
Forest Management Handbook For Small-Parcel Landowners Released
The California Department of Forest and Fire Protection has announced the availability of the Forest Management Handbook for Small-Parcel Landowners in the Sierra Nevada and southern Cascade Range. Family-owned forest lands make up about 20%, or approximately 7 million acres, of California’s forests. Most of these acres are owned and managed as small parcels (10 acres to 100 acres) by nonindustrial private landowners. This handbook was created to provide concise and thorough information to help these landowners develop a sound forest management strategy for their property.
“California’s small private landowners need access to tools and technical assistance to help them manage their forest lands to maintain forest health,” said Stewart McMorrow, Cal Fire’s wildfire resilience staff chief. “Forest landowners do not always have the knowledge or skills to get started with a management plan, which is why the handbook was created.”
Developed in partnership with Cal Fire, the USDA Pacific Southwest Research Station, and the USDA California Climate Hub, this handbook supports actions outlined in California’s Wildfire and Forest Resilience Action Plan to increase assistance to small private landowners by providing technical assistance and outreach. The handbook features information gathered from a large body of current scientific literature that provides relevant technical information for forest landowners. It is organized in a step-by-step manner to help landowners assess the condition of their property to make informed decisions rooted in the best available science.
Digital copies of the handbook are available now and can be accessed by visiting this website. A virtual workshop will be hosted on Tuesday, April 26, from 5 to 6 p.m. for landowners who would like to learn more about how to use the publication, where to find hard copies, and how to access additional local resources. More information about the webinar can be found here.
~ Cal Fire press release
Soroptimist Honors Five Women and Girls
Soroptimist International of Truckee Donner’s annual Celebrating the Best for Women Awards Reception was held March 17 at the Community Arts Center in Truckee.
The event honored Violet Richardson Award high school recipients Ella Costello-Muzyczka and Alexa McPherson for their inspiring work volunteering in the community; Live Your Dream awardees Brenda Delgadillo and Michelle Erskine with $2,500 and $500 respectively to continue their education; and Woman of Distinction Carol Meagher for supporting women and families in our community at the KidZone for many years.
Special recognition was given to four members for longevity of service: Leslie Dugger, 10 years; Lil Schaller, 15 years; Pati Johnson, 30 years; and Leslie Williams, 35 years.
The SITD holds monthly club meetings on the second Thursday of each month at noon. All are invited to join as a guest by emailing info@SITD.info. For more information, go to sitd.info or contact Lisa Saqui, president, at info@SITD.info. SITD will host its 47th annual Wine Tasting Faire on June 4 and Soroptishop for Holiday Shopping featuring local artisans in mid-November.
~ SITD press release
Hyatt Lake Tahoe Partners with Incline Elementary Fund to Support Makerspace Project
Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa, and Casino has partnered with the Incline Education Fund to help build a makerspace for Incline Elementary School children. The resort has raised $5,000 for the makerspace project and plans to announce several additional activities this year to raise further funds.
The IES makerspace is a fun and engaging classroom that will provide local students with an opportunity to develop an authentic understanding of STEM topics, with an emphasis on robotics and coding. The makerspace provides a hands-on learning experience designed to improve student’s creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication skills.
“The makerspace will fulfill our goal of providing all of our students with access to a high-quality STEM program that will help to prepare them for jobs of the future,” said Dan Zimmerman, Incline Elementary School Principal.
So far, the resort has raised $5,000 through its Haunted Hotel community event, which took place last October. The resort is also planning multiple events in 2022 to raise additional funds for Incline schools, including a bike-a-thon where Hyatt employees will raise money for Incline Education Fund programs by riding Peloton bikes for 24-hours straight.
For more information or to book a stay at Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa, and Casino, please visit hyattregencylaketahoe.com, or call (775) 832-1234.
~ Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa, and Casino press release