CARSON CITY — The governors of California and Nevada agreed Thursday to form a panel that will determine whether policies to protect Lake Tahoe might have worsened the impact of a wildfire that destroyed 254 homes and other buildings.
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons decided in a phone call Thursday to work together on the blue-ribbon commission, said Schwarzenegger’s communications director, Adam Mendelsohn.
Gibbons sent a letter Thursday to his California counterpart asking for the commission to conduct a comprehensive overview of forest management in the Lake Tahoe Basin.
The letter stated that a joint fire commission would provide a venue to local, state and federal land management agencies in the Lake Tahoe Basin to implement effective fuel management processes with the goal of helping prevent fires from starting or escalating.
Gibbons said any overview should include the operation of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, or TRPA, a bi-state land use agency comprising Nevadans and Californians.
“The unfortunate tragedy of the Angora fire requires us to revisit the original goals and principles of the TRPA to ensure that they continue to protect the resources of the Lake Tahoe Basin against the many threats they face today,” he said.
The concept for the TRPA was introduced in the 1960s by Nevada Gov. Paul Laxalt and California Gov. Ronald Reagan to better protect and preserve the unique natural resources and pristine beauty of the Lake Tahoe Basin, Gibbons said.
Legislation to officially create the TRPA was passed in Congress and signed by President Nixon in 1969.
But since then, Gibbons said the scope and authority of the TRPA has grown significantly, and many residents of the Tahoe area expressed concern about how TRPA regulations are so complex that homeowners are unsure what actions they can take to ensure adequate fire safety.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.