How Tahoe Measures Forest Health and Fire Hazard
In Tahoe, the buildup of forest fuels in addition to changes in climate have increased the likelihood of uncharacteristic, catastrophic wildfires that pose a serious risk to public safety, private property and forest ecosystems. Vegetation management projects have been implemented throughout the Tahoe Region forests to reduce the amount of forest fuels that could lead to large-scale fires.
The Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) is the zone of transition between the unoccupied land and human development, which is particularly at risk for potential wildfire impacts to human infrastructure. Forest managers use flame length estimates and projections to evaluate fire behavior, existing fire protection strategies, and assess progress towards fire protection goals. Wildfire with flame lengths less than 4 feet can typically be suppressed by crews with hand tools and thus is the desired condition within the WUI.
This indicator measures the percentage of the WUI in the Lake Tahoe Region that is estimated and projected to have flame lengths less than 4 feet in length, which also includes non-burnable areas (e.g. large parking lots).
What is Tahoe Doing to Improve Forest Health and Fire Hazard
Acres of Forest Fuels Reduction Treatment
Improving forest ecosystem health and reducing hazardous fuels (wildfire risk) requires fuels reduction/forest health treatments in the defense zone and threat zone of the wildland urban interface. Treatments are prioritized to reduce fuel conditions that could support high-intensity wildfires in and near communities.
This indicator measures the number of acres of treatment performed in the Lake Tahoe Region to reduce hazardous fuels.
Acres of SEZ Restored or Enhanced
Stream Environment Zone (SEZ) restoration and enhancement efforts are primary drivers for improving riparian function in the Lake Tahoe Region. These direct riparian benefits lead to greater amounts and types of habitat, and improved habitat quality. Providing more and better habitat improves the biological integrity of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems by restoring natural processes and driving the sustainability of sensitive species populations. Enhanced SEZs also improve the timing and quality of stream flows by holding water in meadows and treating pollutants in urban runoff, such as sediment and nutrients.
This indicator measures acres of SEZ in the Lake Tahoe Region that has been restored or enhanced in order to regain natural or historic function and values.
Learn More/Get Involved
Everyone has a role to play in protecting the Lake Tahoe Region. Want to learn how you can help reduce the risk of wildfire? Go to: tahoefft.org/defensible-space.