Letter from Dr. Bill Troost, Chair, Forest Management
Lakeshore Park, Bass Lake CA
HON. DIANNE FEINSTEIN
HON. BARBARA BOXER
This letter is written to inform you about a critical emergency that is threatening BASS LAKE California. Bass Lake is a crown jewel of the Sierra Nevada mountain range located approximately 11 miles south of Yosemite National Park. Hundreds of thousands of visitors have spent happiest days of their lives vacationing in, and around the warm emerald water… the beautiful scenery…and forests. Time at the lake has created priceless, and joy filled memories for residents and visitors since 1902. Sunset Magazine declared Bass Lake one of the five best lakes in the Western United States. It was chosen as the cover picture above all the other lakes. Bass Lake entertained John Candy and Dan Aykroyd in the hilarious blockbuster movie “Great Outdoors” filmed here. The actors and actresses loved Bass Lake and Bass Lake loved them.
If you are reading this message…Bass Lake needs your help today!
Bass Lake is under siege from pine beetles as the speeding onslaught is further intensified by deteriorating drought conditions. Informed estimates are that 25-30% of the Ponderosa pine trees surrounding the lake are currently dead or dying. By next year, the devastation is predicted to at least double – if nothing is done according to Oakhurst forester, Robert Sikora. The time we have to react is limited and must dominate our thinking and action in order to achieve the desired results. Are you willing to help?
Most of the local major forest related agencies are already aware of our predicament, and rounds of public meetings have commenced. Stopping the beetles is a vexing problem and there is much debate about which treatment plans will be most effective. Experts have provided various solutions and scenarios. I would share a scenario that unfolded at Lake Arrowhead in San Bernardino County CA. In approximately 2003, a beetle attack similar to the current Bass Lake situation occurred. Lake Arrowhead was also on the list of “best lakes” created by Sunset Magazine. Arrowhead is very similar to Bass Lake in they are both frequently described as forested communities that are in “high value recreation sites.”
Arrowhead is very close to the entertainment capitals that make up Hollywood and Los Angeles. Many distinguished celebrities own homes and cabins around the lake. Early on, they recognized there was a beetle problem that had to be stopped. Many lovers of Arrowhead had important political connections and were eager to use those contacts. Representatives of the U.S. Congress and Senate were contacted. It was decided that Federal Bills to take emergency action in the interest of Lake Arrowhead would be drafted. The urgent nature of the problem motivated the advocates and political supporters to take swift and enthusiastic action. They succeeded and the Bills were passed.
The basic plan was to solicit bids from tree removal companies to swiftly take down and remove all the diseased trees. The winning contractors would be allowed to keep the lumber, and dispose of it to an appropriate location – for profit. The lumber was trucked down the San Bernardino mountains to the Los Angeles Harbor for shipping to Asia. It was sold for repurposing to foreign companies. It has been estimated 1.3 million trees were removed. This created a WIN-WIN-WIN situation. It created a win for Lake Arrowhead and it’s people, a win for hard working legislators, it ELIMINATED the COST of tree removals, and a win for the tree removal industry. Other funding was raised to buy MCH packs that use pheromones/hormones to trap and kill the flying beetles.
Bass Lake is at least equally deserving of your support, and the support of it’s elected representatives. If you are a legislator looking for a good cause, Bass Lake is looking for you!! Another scenario might involve using local tree removal professionals who could sell the lumber to local sawmills for processing the wood taken away.
Bass Lake is actively working to be part of positive solutions for itself. We have at least 5 forest stations within a 10 mile radius from the Lake (Cal Fire-several stations, U.S. Forest Service, Bass Lake and North Fork Volunteer fire stations. All of these units together have done very well protecting us from severe wildfire situations and house fires. Our entire community is very appreciative and proud of their good work. We have been nationally recognized for the past 6 years by Firewise U.S.A. for organized fire safety activities to fight wild fire hazards. Neighbors in Lakeshore park have spent as much as $30,000 per year to remove beetle trees from PGE lands bordering our homes. These activities are commendable but they do not effect the current alarming beetle and dead tree situation. All of sudden we are faced with an extremely urgent need to protect all the remaining ponderosa pines. Our major landmark “Goat Mountain” is particularly hard hit…it’s green trees suddenly brown…and it is so alarming to see how fast it is moving.
Lastly, taking action regarding Bass Lake is part of a confined geographical area. The Lake basin is roughly 1 1/2 miles wide by 6 miles long. Getting rid of the dead and beetle infested trees is not a billion dollar affair. This need is workable!!! A wild fire ignited by dead trees at Bass Lake could quickly burn uphill through Lewis Creek Canyon to Yosemite. Doing something will contribute to the protection of our nearby National Park, and the mountain community of Oakhurst. Thinning of the forests around Bass Lake will make them healthier and more resilient for many generations to come, while significantly reducing threats to life and property during high fire danger years.
We are seeking reactions to this message. In particular we are seeking letters of support from local or national organizations. We particularly seek support of legislators on the State and Federal level willing to support legislation. Thank you for taking time to read this appeal for help!!!
Dr. Bill Troost
Chair, Forest Management
Lakeshore Park, Bass Lake CA