Bass Lake emergency

This letter is written to inform you about a critical emergency that is threatening Bass Lake, the crown jewel of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Time at the lake has created priceless and joy-filled memories for residents and hundreds of thousands of visitors since 1902.

Sunset Magazine declared Bass Lake one of the five best lakes in the Western United States, and Bass Lake entertained John Candy and Dan Aykroyd for the filming of the hilarious 1988 blockbuster movie “The Great Outdoors.” The actors and actresses loved Bass Lake, and Bass Lake loved them.

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 an Oakhurst forester. 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. In approximately 2003, a beetle attack similar to the current Bass Lake situation occurred.

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.

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, and 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 has been estimated 1.3 million trees were removed.

Other funding was raised to buy MCH packs that use phermones/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.

We have been nationally recognized for the past six 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 affect 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 alarming to see how fast it is moving.

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 support of legislators on the state and federal level willing to support legislation to minimize this potentially life-threatening situation.