Conservation, scientific, recreation and business organizations delivered more than 12,000 public comments, letters and petitions to the U.S. Forest Service on Wednesday in support of strong protections for the forests and watersheds of the Lake Tahoe Basin.
The comments were delivered as the Forest Service finished a public comment period for a new plan to manage the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, more than 78 percent of the land around the lake.
"The forests, mountains, meadows, lakes and rivers in the Tahoe area are some of the most beautiful and spectacular places in the world. The Lake Tahoe basin forest plan is one of the best opportunities to protect some of the last wilderness and ancient forests in the Tahoe area, and indeed the whole Sierra Nevada," Lauren Thorpe of the Sierra Club stated in a press release. "These comments show that people throughout the country care about Tahoe's forests, wilderness and wild and scenic rivers and want to see them permanently protected."
About 5 million people visit Lake Tahoe every year, bringing in more than $1 billion to the local economy, the release stated.. The natural beauty of the landscape - including forests, rivers, and extensive trail systems - is a key economic driver for the area.
"As a company with over 200 employees living in northern Nevada and California, we have a vested interest in making sure that our public lands in the Lake Tahoe basin get the protection they deserve. Our employees enjoy many different outdoor pursuits and forms of recreation in the Lake Tahoe area and understand the importance of sound management decisions," Ron Hunter of Patagonia stated.
In addition to the numerous public comments from concerned citizens, the groups delivered in-depth, science-based policy comments by a coalition of organizations that represents more than 5 million members in the U.S., the release stated.
The Lake Tahoe plan will be the first forest plan revised in the Sierra Nevada and the first to seriously consider the impacts of climate change on the forest. For more information about the plan, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/ltbmu/ForestPlanRevision.