Hundreds of volunteers will grab shovels, picks, bats and wheelbarrows this Saturday for the League to Save Lake Tahoe's 15th annual Tahoe Forest Stewardship Day.
This year workers will head south to the Tahoe Paradise Park in Meyers, Calif., a site that Flavia Sordelet, the League's community engagement manager, said needs a lot of attention.
Volunteers will work on reducing streambed erosion and hazardous materials as well as restore trails in the area, plant sugar pines that are resistant to the Eurasian white pine blister rust - a European fungus introduced more than 100 years ago that attacks the trees - and plant willow cuttings in the riverbank.
"These events are important because they not only educate the community about Lake Tahoe's unique environment, they also help engage the community in stewardship in the basin," Sordelet said.
For hydrologist Heather Segale, the volunteer work days have taught her the importance of proper forest management, especially on and around private property. Segale, the director of education and outreach at the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, has worked as a Tahoe Forest Stewardship Day team leader for about 10 years.
"I learned what I could do at my own property as far as making it healthier. A lot of people look at their property and see trees as a nice buffer between them and their neighbors. But if those shrubs catch fire, it can move up the tree in what's called 'ladder fuels,'" Segale said.
During past forest days, she's sawed down smaller trees that were competing for sunlight and nutrients, cut down the low-hanging branches on the larger trees, weeded and planted. She felt like she and the other volunteers made a big difference when all the work was done.
As the English writer John Heywood wrote, "Many hands make light work," and with about 200 workers armed with shovels and ready to restore, there's a lot of progress than can be made, Segale said.
"Forestry is not my background, but I learned about forest fires and forest health in Tahoe. I feel like it's a really great way to learn about forest health. There's a lot of experts there and you can learn about the science behind the conservation," Segale said.
In addition to volunteering, Segale will have an information booth set up at Paradise Park on Saturday with live plankton, microscopes, and some of the university's newest research, including the 2012 State of the Lake Report.
All volunteers should wear sturdy shoes, long pants, plenty of layers and work gloves. Shovels, loppers to cut willow branches, metal rakes and wheelbarrows are always welcome. People interested in participating can register ahead, but walk-ins are welcome as well.
"You can't say no to anyone who wants to volunteer for Lake Tahoe," Sordelet said.