It’s only a matter of time before a major fire hits the Tahoe Basin, according to Thomas Bonnicksen – a visiting forestry professor at UC Davis. He compares the fire danger in Tahoe to the flood danger in New Orleans one year ago.
"We knew that, before Katrina ever appeared but we refused to do what was necessary given what we knew. Well now we know Tahoe would burn."
Bonnicksen says logging companies should be allowed to thin out timber to reduce fire danger.
"You have to find some way to remove those excess trees but if you can’t cut them you can’t restore it and if you can’t sell the wood from the tree after you cut it you can’t pay to do it."
But Paul Mason with the Sierra Club says allowing the timber industry to thin out the forests would put old growth trees at risk.
"Unfortunately they continue to propose projects that are essentially excuses for logging old growth and that’s why we have a chronic conflict about this in California."
Meantime, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency is urging Tahoe-area homeowners to protect their property by creating a defensible space around their homes.