On Tuesday's NBC Nightly News, while reporting from Lake Tahoe, correspondent George Lewis relayed one homeowner's complaint that environmental regulations had contributed to the danger of wildfires in the area. She further contended that the only reason her home survived was because she had cleared away brush near her home in violation of the law. Lewis: "She blames environmentalists and bureaucrats for creating rules that, in her opinion, increased the fire hazard. Says she had to break the law to clear brush off adjacent federal land."
Below is a complete transcript of the report by George Lewis from the Tuesday June 26 NBC Nightly News:
GEORGE LEWIS: As the fire has jumped those lines, additional evacuations of people who live here are under way. This, as people who live in the previously burned areas were trying to get back home. This morning, after she pleaded, argued and reasoned with the authorities, Sue Abrams was granted permission to return to her home, still standing in one of the burned out areas.
SUE ABRAMS: The fence is gone, most of my landscaping is gone, but we have our home. My neighbor Jason's over there right now. He doesn't have a home. It's gone.
LEWIS: She blames environmentalists and bureaucrats for creating rules that, in her opinion, increased the fire hazard. Says she had to break the law to clear brush off adjacent federal land.
ABRAMS: I took the chance and said, "Okay, come arrest me."
LEWIS: She says that's what saved her house, creating a space around it that wouldn't burn. Fire experts say that people who live in wooded areas like this one are taking a big chance that they won't be wiped out by forest fires, but the new residents keep coming. Since 1982, 8.6 million new homes have been constructed in the West within 30 miles of national forest land.
REX NORMAN, U.S. Forest Service: Here in the Tahoe basin, we have one of the highest percentages of urban development of any national forest area in the United States.
LEWIS: Environmentalist Autumn Bernstein, with the Sierra Nevada Alliance, forced from her home by the fire, says man has turned the Sierra into a tinderbox.
AUTUMN BERNSTEIN, Sierra Nevada Alliance: We're still doing penance for 100 years of bad forest management in the Sierra. We have lots and lots of forests that are just choked full of dead brush and small trees.
LEWIS: A situation further complicated by a population boom here as people gamble that this won't happen to them.