Director’s Update August 2008

Allen Biaggi, director of the Nevada Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources

Allen Biaggi, director of the Nevada Dept. of Conservation and Natural Resources

Good afternoon to everyone in the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Following is the Director’s Office update for August. I hope you are having a great summer.

Sand Harbor’s heroic lifeguards

Three of State Park’s seasonal lifeguards had their training tested in late July. Samuel Lawrence, Alisa Johansson and Dennis Sanders rescued two people from the icy waters of Lake Tahoe at Sand Harbor. One person died in this incident; however, the quick work of Sand Harbor’s lifeguards was instrumental in preventing further tragedy.

I would like to personally commend all of Sand Harbor’s on-duty lifeguards on their response in this situation.

The passing of a Forestry employee

I am sad to report that the Nevada Division of Forestry lost one of its seasonal firefighters recently. Nate Manca had been with NDF as a seasonal for four years. Nate was a top-notch employee who will be dearly missed. NDF held a very moving memorial and tribute to Nate on July 31 at Washoe Lake State Park. It was well attended by Nate’s family and his coworkers. Please keep Nate and his family in your thoughts.

NDF’s helicopter in Tahoe on the weekends

The Nevada Division of Forestry, in conjunction with the Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District and the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District is staging an NDF helicopter in the Lake Tahoe Basin as a firefighting resource during high fire risk days. This is in keeping with the recommendations of the Bi-State Fire Commission which investigated the causes of the Angora Fire in South Tahoe.

The Tahoe Douglas Zephyr Fire Crew will begin training on the helicopter, based at the Minden Airport. The operation will continue throughout the fire season.

The NDF helicopter can be used both to drop water on fires and deliver hand crews quickly to remote areas. A video about NDF’s Air Operations can be viewed here.

Grants awarded for conservation projects at Mt. Charleston

The Nevada Division of State Lands has awarded grants totaling $104,523 to six projects promoting the natural environment of the Mt. Charleston area, between Las Vegas and Pahrump.

Funds for the grants are generated from sales of the Mt. Charleston license plate, one of many specialty plates available at the Department of Motor Vehicles that include a percentage of the registration fees assigned to special projects statewide. Read more here.

State Lands also administers the Lake Tahoe license plate program, which also funds conservation projects at Tahoe. Both of these plates are available from the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Tahoe Summit August 16

California Sen. Diane Feinstein and Calif. Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger are hosting this year’s Tahoe Summit. The event will be held on the grounds of the Valhalla Estate on August 16. I have the pleasure of being one of the event’s speakers and will be discussing Nevada’s Environmental Improvement Program (EIP).

The Tahoe Summit, held annually, is a significant event, and this year will highlight the role of property owners and federal, state and local governments in working together to preserve Lake Tahoe.

June’s Safety Challenge winner

Congratulations to DCNR’s Linda Mulkey for being the winner of the state’s June Safety Challenge. Linda was chosen by Risk Management’s Joan Tierney for her safety enhancing efforts in the Richard H. Bryan Building.

Linda also secured a grant from the State of Nevada Emergency Response Commission. The grant money was awarded for the purchase of nine concrete planter boxes that will be placed at all four entrances to the building. Money for the grant comes from the “United We Stand” license plates.

Signing TROA

September 6, 2008 will mark a major milestone in the management of Nevada’s water resources. More than 20 years in the making, the Truckee River Operating Agreement (TROA) will be signed by Nevada, California, the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe and the United States. I have the distinct pleasure of signing for Nevada however the real driving force behind the agreement is former DCNR director Roland Westergard. Roland has been working on this agreement since the negotiations began and is probably the most knowledgeable person on the interworkings and implications of the agreement. In general, TROA modifies the way the Truckee River is operated and recognizes existing water rights, the cultural importance of the river and Pyramid Lake to the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, the needs of the growing communities of Reno and Sparks and the unique ecosystems in and along the river.

Lahontan’s levels reaching all-time low

Drought conditions and the breach earlier this year in the canal linking the Carson and Truckee river systems have contributed to a rapid decrease in water levels at Lahontan Reservoir. The reservoir may reach near historic low levels before the end of summer. To date, this has had an impact on Lahontan’s visitation and revenues at the State Park and is also impacting Fallon’s farmers.

For safety reasons, the Silver Springs and North Shore Marina docks have been removed from the water, and the launching ramps are closed. Dropping reservoir levels continue to expose underwater hazards, and boating is not advised. Visitors should use extreme caution when boating on Lahontan Reservoir and to do so at their own risk.

Have a safe and happy remainder of the summer.

Allen Biaggi
Director

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