State Forester Says Thinning Would Work Best

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Western governors are gathering in Missoula, Montana this week to talk about how to protect their states from devestating forest fires.

Governor Kenny Guinn will not be in attendance but Nevada State Forester Steve Robinson will go in his place.

I spoke with Robinson this morning about what he hopes to accomplish.

Robinson says the only way to protect Nevadans from fires that could destroy homes as well as our state's natural beauty is to thin our forests and rangelands.

It's all part of a plan that's backed by the Bush Administration.

Firefighters say the Iterstate-0 fire that started June first was just a taste of what this year's fire season could be like.

But our state forester says there is a plan out there that could help mitigate the problem.

"For us here in Nevada, that means the millions of acres of pinion and juniper - going in and thinning the acreage of it - and up in the Tahoe Basin - it means thinning that too," Robinson says.

Environmentalists opposed to a bill that supports forest thinning call the plan a virtual clear cut.

But the bill is backed by the Bush Administration and by western governors. Robinson, who calls himself a conservationist, says he believes the plan is right for our state.

"Nothing could be more devestating to the Tahoe Basin. "For instance, an unplanned wildland fire - what we call a catastrophic fire," he says.

Robinson says a fire in the Tahoe Basin would significantly impact the lake for decades. He says, aside from the homes, trees, and animals that would go up in flames, the erosion caused by a fire would destroy the lake's world-renowned water clarity.

Robinson also says that, even if we start a major thinning of our forests now, it will take ten years to get them where they need to be.

"Unless people want to live with breathing smoke every summer and their forests and rangelands going up in flames, we've gotta get going," Robinson says.