TERU Focus Report - Angora Fire Retrospective

Successful IFWG Field Trip to Angora Fire Area, Lake Tahoe Basin 
October 15, 2010 --

The Interagency Forest Working Group (IFWG) got about 30 of its members in a bus on October 1, 2010, and drove to the south end of the Lake Tahoe Basin for a day of high-level "What We've Learned" discussions as we walked through the devastated area of the Angora Fire of 2007. Speakers included California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire), the US Forest Service, University scientists, and Basin planning staff, some of whom lost homes among the 260+ structures destroyed and most all were on the ground for the fire. Some of my personal THMs (take home messages):

·         After decades of contention, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) has become an active collaborative member of the multi-state, multi-agency socio-economic and environmental planning and oversight mechanism for the Basin. It took something as devastating as the Angora Fire to accomplish that feat, but the challenge now will be to continue to rely on this science-based collaboration.

·         Now that we have PRC 4291 as an excellent "motivator" for Defensible Space within the Wildland - Urban Interface (lovingly called the WUI), it was most fascinating to learn that in many cases the cleared property areas were MOST effective in keeping the surrounding forest safe, rather than the structures on the property. Homes constructed of fire-resistant materials in the path of the fire were frequently untouched, as fire-prone structures torched each other in progression. Clearly, we must have fire-safe buildings, along with fire safe vegetation management.

·         There are indeed "wastes" that are generated in our forests as a result of their beneficial use and management. As is characteristic of any unmanaged waste, when an excess of biomass is allowed to accumulate, it becomes a problem all around. Whether or not our society can agree on timber harvesting - vs - preservation as pre-eminent policy on National Forest land management, we appear to be in general consensus that biomass waste management is an environmentally sound and highly needed function. Focusing on access, aggregation, removal and beneficial use of what we can indeed designate as "Biomass Waste" can provide a clear path to at least one significant biomass feedstock, for conversion to energy, fuels and other commodities.

·         Interagency collaboration is critical, but must be extended to full public/private participation in a structured "Forest Stewardship" model to create and perpetuate stakeholder consensus.


The IFWG continues to draw disparate parties into consensus-building forest management alliances, as the very basis of national forest land management remains under intense scrutiny. IFWG was created within California's' Climate Action Team (CAT) program following the Governor's California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32).



© Teru Talk by JDMT, Inc 2010. All rights reserved.

You are free to reprint and use this report as long as no changes are made to its content or references and credit is given to the author, Michael Theroux. http://www.terutalk.com


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