October 30, 2019
Sent VIA Email and Electronically to:
Jeff Marsolais, Forest Supervisor
Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit
35 College Drive
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
Dear Forest Supervisor Marsolais,
Tragically, even as major destructive wind driven fires are burning in the West, and the fact that it is common knowledge that the fall and early winter seasons produce erratic and quickly changing wind events, US Forest Service Administrators continue their purposeful and dangerous fire, smoke pollution and heat growth practices without effective monitoring, settled science or oversight, carrying out their harmful policies with impunity.
The USFS and its burn partners routinely fail to provide adequate state of the art fire suppression resources, monitoring and smoke mechanical monitoring devices before, during and after purposeful burn manipulation events. The Lake Tahoe Basin air quality districts, USFS and burn partners have failed in providing adequate real time state of the art smoke monitoring during these events.
The USFS continues to degrade our pristine clean air here in the Lake Tahoe Basin on an ongoing year round basis by utilizing and burning raw diesel and gasoline mix accelerant in order to burn thousands of burn piles. These piles sit for years in the open as public nuisances, both potentially catastrophic and visually alarming, as they shock the conscience of the general public. In many areas in the Lake Tahoe Basin incomplete burning of your piles in pristine areas have left perhaps thousands of half burned creosote covered logs, forever changing the landscape of our once beautiful forest…..There is nothing natural about this process.
These dangerous and destructive land and pollution practices are not based on true science and harm us all, including our children, the very young, the elderly, those who are pregnant, respiratory patients, ranch animals, pets, our cherished wildlife, local and regional recreation, visitors and commerce as they, by your hands drive up insurance rates. Tons of pm2.5, pm10 and carbon black particles degrade the water quality and clarity of our streams, rivers and lakes. There is overwhelming evidence that dangerous chemicals including carbon black from forest burn smoke cause wide spread health effects up to and including death among all of our population, not just the young, elderly or other sensitive risk groups.
The USFS purposely ignores and fails to adequately address, monitor, and communicate the ongoing and dangerous pollution public toxic pollution and particulate matter that is generated by your ongoing pollution practices. You fail to adequately consider the real human impact and costs of your pollution generating activities, including spikes in hospital, doctor and emergency room visits as well as medical and Medicare costs from your destructive pollution practices. Beyond the acute adverse effects from the smoke, it is also now recognized that oxidants found in smoke can cause genetic damage.
Citizens are told by you and your agency burn partners to be “fire adapted”, however the human lung is not and never will be “smoke adapted.”
As an example of the lack of sound basic public safety judgement, while not under your direct preview, the recently escaped “controlled burn”, now called the Caples Wildfire continues to be purposefully manipulated by USFS administrators and its burn partners and has grown from 100 acres of pile burning 30 days ago…. to 3,435 acres and is still not fully contained.
Despite common knowledge that fall and early winter winds erratically and quickly change in the Sierra, the US Forest Service and their partner burn agencies ignored this fact and elected to undertake the Caples “Prescribed” burn during this known erratic fall wind period which has and continues to unleash thousands of tons of dangerous toxic smoke and heat on Sierra and Lake Tahoe communities in Nevada and California. Are we to expect this same risky behavior from you Supervisor Marsolais as you push ahead with your fall and early winter burn plans, regardless of the public safety potential, with November weather predicted to be dry and seasonal fall/winter erratic wind events common knowledge among burn agencies…………Sadly, the excuse for the escaped growth of the ongoing Caples wildfire near Lake Tahoe was that the winds changed causing the burn to get “out of control”. Really?….The escaped fire at Caples is due to incompetence pure and simple.
This type of agency “must burn”, “just burn”, “just let it burn” dogma, regardless of consequence seems to be common place with burn agencies…. as a parallel, let’s not forget the destructive “Little Valley” wildfire that erupted from a “controlled/prescribed” burn above the hills of Washoe Lake in Northern Nevada during a fall wind event…. Similar to Little Valley, many of your LTBMU fire hazard burn piles Supervisor Marsolais are located directly above communities like Incline Village and serve as catastrophic possibilities, once you perform ignition with the potential of a downhill fire run into these types of communities during a high and changing wind event during this fall/winter season.
And, as you know, the USFS and their California burn and pollution partners plan to burn more fuels and terrain during this dangerous fall season of unpredictable winds. Few are aware that the Governor of the State of California posted an Executive order in 2018 for California to burn an additional 500,000 acres a year….and of course in addition to the previously planned burning and pollution here in the Tahoe Basin, it appears that you plan to burn an additional 7,500 acres in conjunction with Liberty Power, without adequate suppression safeguards, air monitoring or adequate consideration given to recent escaped burn history, and resulting destruction.
And yet, according to the USFS website, even though you categorize wildland fires as the “new norm”, the Chief of the US Forest Service has vowed to continue to grow “unplanned” event fires in 2019. Can we expect you Supervisor Marsolais that you intend to grow “unplanned event” fires here in the Lake Tahoe Basin, which could be pretty much any wildland fire regardless of cause?
Also, as you are aware, Federal Burn Agency ASR strategy policies were put in place 40 years ago to accomplish a “cost-effective response to fires that escaped initial attack” and would depart from the strategy of “early containment and control.” This subjective and non-settled science fire growth manipulation is exacerbated through your agency’s application of the non-settled science application of MIST techniques ….. Since your Forest Plan allows for MIST techniques, are we to expect this type of ecotopia burn growth engineering from you here in the Tahoe Basin Chief Marsolais?
It appears the US Forest Service is creating historical catastrophic burn and pollution manipulation time period here in our region by continuing to degrade our air quality up and down the Sierra Range and negatively impact our health, wildlife, recreation, commerce and increasing our insurance rates with impunity.
Doug Flaherty, Pres
Tahoe Sierra Clean Air Coalition
A Nevada 501(c)(3) Non Profit Corporation
774 Mays Blvd 10-124
Incline Village, NV 89451
Tahoe Sierra Clean Air…..”Protect it”
“If the sky isn’t blue……the lake isn’t blue”
“Chip and haul first….don’t burn”