SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – The U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) released the final decision to reduce hazardous fuels on the West Shore of Lake Tahoe. The West Shore Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) Fuels Reduction and Forest Health Project will treat approximately 4,875 acres extending from Emerald Bay to Burton Creek State Park. The project includes thinning and fuels reduction treatments intended to reduce the risk of severe wildfire, provide defensible space to adjacent communities, and improve forest health by thinning trees in high density areas, which decreases the risk for widespread tree mortality during drought conditions, insect infestation and spreading of diseases.
“This project focuses on important community defense efforts,” said LTBMU Forest Supervisor, Jeff Marsolais. “It also paves the way for the work of large landscape collaborative efforts like Lake Tahoe West.”
The West Shore project will complete initial treatment on National Forest lands within the WUI and is consistent with objectives and direction in the Lake Tahoe Basin Multi-Jurisdictional Fuel Reduction and Wildfire Prevention Strategy and the LTBMU Land Management Plan.
Thinning methods consist of both hand and mechanical removal of brush and trees, which will then be removed for saw logs, biomass, or fuelwood, and remaining material will be chipped, masticated, or piled for prescribed burning. Piles will be burned approximately one to three years later, once the fuels are dry. Temporary roads will be constructed to allow for mechanical treatment. Follow-up treatments may include prescribed understory burning.
In addition to short-term impacts to recreational areas, fuels reduction projects change the appearance of basin forests. Treated areas look disturbed at first, but recover visually within a few years.
Thinning could begin as early as summer or fall 2017, and depending on conditions could take 10 years to complete.
The Decision Memo is available at http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/ltbmu/WestShoreWUI.