Wildfire Evacuation Report Released for Homewood per CCEC Settlement

September 28, 2016

Pursuant to our successful appeal and subsequent settlement with the Placer County Board of Supervisors and Homewood Mountain Resort, the Committee has this week received the "Homewood Evacuation and Life Safety Report," prepared under the direction of the North Tahoe Fire.

The report concludes that "any complex evacuation route can become compromised in a major disaster. Therefore, this report, consistent with the Settlement and the direction of NT Fire, includes several items on a programmatic level that will lower the demand on evacuation systems by providing defensible space, fire-safe buildings, increased firefighting capacity and areas of refuge for residents."

"The Settlement required that a finding of 'non-exacerbation' be made for evacuation from the West Shore and, by extension, the North Tahoe Basin, as some evacuation routes are shared by some or all.  Key to providing for 'non-exacerbation' will be to implement a comprehensive fire safety program."

The report continues, "evacuation may not be a realistic possibility at any given time.  In short, immediate evacuation is only one component of a life-safety plan and is easily compromised by events or conditions outside the control of the authorities let alone the Project. The roads leading away from Homewood are low speed two lane roads which are often densely lined with forest. Highway 89 has been closed frequently over the decades by numerous disasters or accidents. The most recent fire related event that closed the road was the relatively small Washoe Fire (19.83 acres in August 2007)."

The further safety elements required to avoid impacting evacuation safety, according to NT Fire, include--

  • New and expanded Homewood Fire Station centrally located in a "hardened" structure
  • A central fire control facility on the Homewood Mountain Resort site
  • Increased fire personnel staffing in the Homewood station
  • New fire fighting apparatus including a Type 1 engine, a Type III brush engine, an ALS ambulance, a water truck, a utility vehicle, a new ladder truck, and a pumper boat that can draw water directly from the lake for fire fighting
  • Lake water flow connected to the project standpipe
  • Shelter-in-place to be designed and built like a "high-rise" package
  • A defensible space vegetation management program
  • CC&Rs and development agreements to ensure continuation of the fire safety program

Under the terms of settlement, HMR is now to work with NTFPD to make the report available to the public and to schedule at least one public meeting to discuss the report. NTFPD was not a party to the litigation but is expected to oversee the public comment process, the specific responses to public comments, and the necessary changes in the report as required by the settlement. (See here.)

The Committee wishes to express great appreciation for the detailed work of NTFPD on this important report.

Homewood Evacuation and Life Safety Report

Appendix A - Homewood Concept Plan and Base Area Map

Appendix B - 8.28.180 High-Rise Building Regulations

Appendix C - Guide to Fire Adapted Communities

Appendix D - Annex I: North Tahoe Fire Protection District, Local Hazard Mitigation Plan (2010)

Appendix E - North Tahoe Fire Protection District, Emergency Preparedness and Evacuation Guide

Appendix F - Placer Operational Area East Side Emergency Evacuation Plan

2016 Now Hottest Year on Record

September 15, 2016

The Guardian:  "This, on current trends, will be the hottest year ever measured. The previous record was set in 2015; the one before in 2014. Fifteen of the 16 warmest years have occurred in the 21st century. Each of the past 14 months has beaten the global monthly temperature record...."

Works of Mercy

September 06, 2016

Washington Post:  "Pope Francis, who has made the environment a clear focus of his papacy over the past three years, deepened his vision Thursday of a green church in which caring for the planet is as important a Catholic commitment as caring for the sick and the hungry."

"Catholics currently subscribe to seven corporal and seven spiritual 'works of mercy' — obligations that include sheltering the homeless, visiting prisoners and burying the dead. On Thursday, in an address explaining why Catholics must make practical changes in their daily routines to safeguard the earth that God created, Francis added care for the environment as an eighth work of mercy."

"The modern world has new forms of poverty, Francis said, and thus requires new forms of mercy to address them."

“'When we mistreat nature, we also mistreat human beings,' he wrote in his message for the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, which falls on Sept. 1. He discussed the effect of global warming, which he noted is caused in part by human activity, on the world’s poorest people."

"'This is leading to ever more severe droughts, floods, fires and extreme weather events,' Francis wrote. 'Climate change is also contributing to the heart-rending refugee crisis. The world’s poor, though least responsible for climate change, are most vulnerable and already suffering its impact.'"

June Gasoline Demand Highest Ever

September 01, 2016

Reuters:  "Gasoline demand in June was the highest ever, according to the EIA, which began tracking gasoline demand in 1945."

40 Terawatt-Hours of Zero-Carbon-Emissions Electricity Going Off-Line

June 16, 2016

Los Angeles Times: "In December, four of the world’s top climate scientists — James Hansen, of Columbia University; Kerry Emanuel,of MIT; Ken Caldeira, of the Carnegie Institution for Science; and Tom Wigley, of the University of Adelaide in Australia — wrote in the Guardian that nuclear energy 'will make the difference between the world missing crucial climate targets or achieving them.' They added that those who claim we should rely solely on wind and solar to reduce our emissions 'downplay or ignore the intermittency' of those sources and make 'unrealistic technical assumptions.'"

U.S. Forest Service--Forest Area Destroyed by Fire Has Doubled

May 09, 2016

The New Yorker: "According to a Forest Service report published last April, 'Climate change has led to fire seasons that are now on average 78 days longer than in 1970.' Over the past three decades, the area destroyed each year by forest fires has doubled, and the service’s scientists project that it’s likely to 'double again by midcentury.' A group of scientists who analyzed lake cores from Alaska to obtain a record of forest fires over the past ten thousand years found that, in recent decades, blazes were both unusually frequent and unusually severe. 'This extreme combination suggests a transition to a unique regime of unprecedented fire activity,' they concluded.

Scientists Double Sea Level Rise Projections

April 21, 2016

Washington Post: "Sea levels could rise nearly twice as much as previously predicted by the end of this century if carbon dioxide emissions continue unabated, an outcome that could devastate coastal communities around the globe, according to new research published Wednesday."

"The main reason? Antarctica."

"Scientists behind a new study published in the journal Nature used sophisticated computer models to decipher a longstanding riddle about how the massive, mostly uninhabited continent surrendered so much ice during previous warm periods on Earth. They found that similar conditions in the future could lead to monumental and irreversible increases in sea levels. If high levels of greenhouse gas emissions continue, they concluded, oceans could rise by close to two meters in total (more than six feet) by the end of the century. The melting of ice on Antarctica alone could cause seas to rise more than 15 meters (49 feet) by 2500."

NOAA’s Senior Advisor for Coastal Inundation: "Davidson said recent data that has been collected but has yet to be made official indicates sea levels could rise by roughly 3 meters or 9 feet by 2050-2060, far higher and quicker than current projections."

Mass Bleaching of Coral Reefs

April 11, 2016

New York Times:  "The damage off Kiritimati is part of a mass bleaching of coral reefs around the world, only the third on record and possibly the worst ever. Scientists believe that heat stress from multiple weather events including the latest, severe El Niño, compounded by climate change, has threatened more than a third of Earth’s coral reefs. Many may not recover."

"Coral reefs are the crucial incubators of the ocean’s ecosystem, providing food and shelter to a quarter of all marine species, and they support fish stocks that feed more than one billion people."

Rising Public Health Impacts

April 04, 2016

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy: “This document shows that the public health case for climate action is really compelling beyond words,” McCarthy said.

“This isn’t just about glaciers and polar bears. This is about the health of our families and our kids. To protect ourselves and future generations, we need to understand the health impacts of climate change that are already happening and those that we expect to see down the road.”

Feds: Climate Change to Impact Western Water Trends

March 27, 2016

The Hill: "Climate change will hasten existing water supply concerns in the Western United States, the Interior Department concluded in a report released Tuesday."

"A warming climate is excepted to bring higher temperatures and changes to precipitation, snowpack and water flow throughout the West, the report found."