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Save the Tahoe Basin SEEKS FUNDS FOR HelicopterFIRE RESCUE by Lee Koch

Last summer, the Caldor and Tamarack fires were a wake-up call to all of us throughout the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond. And with precipitation levels and regional snowpack at lower levels than average, all are concerned about what the summer will bring.

While assessing the past and planning for the future, the Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District acknowledged that there are no dedicated aerial resources within the Basin to assist with fires and emergency rescues, and there is a desperate need to have an aggressive, immediate response helicopter with services to support this initiative. By purchasing a Fire Rescue Helicopter to serve the Lake Tahoe Basin and surrounding areas, officials believe we could dramatically increase the ability to save lives, properties, infrastructure, wildlife, and the National Treasure that is Lake Tahoe.

Right now, a formal fundraising program is underway to support the initiative through “Operation Save the Tahoe Basin,” and it is well underway.

This spring, the initiative received a financial boost of $100,000 that was raised in just 20 minutes.

What started as an annual company meeting for Chase International Real Estate turned into an unprecedented event to support “Operation Save the Tahoe Basin.” Through donations at every level, with matching funds from Chase Cares, which is a companywide mission to support local community needs, and EKN Development Group, owners/ developers of the Revitalize Tahoe Biltmore project, the fundraiser is on track.

This program will provide the much-needed immediate emergency response to the entire Lake Tahoe Basin and surrounding area.

In addition to the Fire Rescue Helicopter, the funds for the program will also provide:

Initial fire attack that would suppress fires quickly when they are small - 24/7

Emergency rescue from the air - 24/7

The capability of dropping 1,000 gallons of water on a fire

The ability to drop a Helitack Crew on the ground for fire suppression

An onboard paramedic with full advanced life support

equipment to perform emergency life-saving skills

A hoist to perform rescues in remote or challenging locations

The capability for night flying to detect and suppress fires and for search and rescue operations

Non-emergency fuels reduction work to establish fuel breaks around neighborhoods and businesses in the Lake Tahoe area

Funding is being organized through the Parasol Tahoe Community Foundation, a key partner in this program. To donate to the “Greater Tahoe Arial Fire and Rescue Fund, visit www.Parasol.org/aerial.

In addition to its fundraising program, there are additional ways to support the project publicly and politically. Representatives are available to speak to local and regional organizations and neighborhood gatherings throughout the year.

To set up a formal presentation for a group, business, homeowner's association, General Improvement District, or would like more information on protecting Lake Tahoe with a Fire Rescue Helicopter Program, call the Tahoe Douglas Fire Department office at 775-588-3591.

The organizers also encourage all to contact local state and federal representatives to urge them to give their support to the program.

For specific details about “Operation Save the Tahoe Basin,” visit TahoeFire.org/ helicopter.

We could dramatically increase the ability to save lives, properties, infrastructure, wildlife, and the National Treasure that is Lake Tahoe.