By Dan Shapley
After Fire Claimed Hundreds Of Homes, Brush Clearing Permits Under Review
States rights, property rights and the Western independent spirit are hovering beneath a growing firestorm over the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency's forest management practices, following the loss of hundreds of homes to the Angora fire. The agency was created by Congress with broad powers to control land use in the two states surrounding Lake Tahoe. Its regulations -- both real and imagined -- have prevented many from clearing dead wood and other fire hazards. Now, residents claim it's a central cause of the intense fire. There are other causes, dating back to the clear-cutting of the land for mining a century ago, and including the exceptionally dry and hot weather this spring and summer, and even global warming as an over-arching driver of those weather conditions. Under criticism, regulators are taking a top-to-bottom look at their policies. If they follow through, there should be a way to allow private property owners the ability to protect their homes from fire without damaging the surrounding environment.