Anniversary sparks review |

Anniversary sparks review

Andy Bourelle

At the one-year anniversary conference of the Presidential Forum at Lake Tahoe, Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Jim Lyons singled out three areas of significant improvement.

The reintroduction of fire into the Lake Tahoe Basin, the increased role of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s local Natural Resource Conservation Services and the success of the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California in once again obtaining land on Lake Tahoe.

Prior to the conference, Lyons, Sen. Harry Reid and about 20 other officials and members of the media took a tour of a few project sights in the Lake Tahoe area, which Lyon said illustrated the first two subjects in his list of important accomplishments.

The third was illustrated by the speech given by Brian Wallace, chairman of the Washoe Tribe.

Wallace said the Washoe Tribe was thankful that it was recognized as the original culture in the Lake Tahoe Basin, for being able to acquire the 300 acres in the Meeks Bay area and to be a part of the collaborative effort to preserve Lake Tahoe.

“We’re very proud to stand here and face the burning sun of a bright horizon, with a new level of hope for the future,” Wallace said.

The reintroduction of fire into the Lake Tahoe Basin was illustrated on the morning tour by a stop at White Hill, near the Spooner Summit Forest Service Station.

There, tour members were able to see a prescribed burn, while forest officials explained the importance of reintroducing fire to the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Fire, for the most part, has been absent from the area for more than 100 years.

Much of the Tahoe Basin is far too dense, according to the forest service. Prescribed burning removes dead timber and brush from the forest floor, reducing the risk of wildfires and increasing the overall health of the forest.

At the 1997 presidential summit, a goal was set of prescribed burning 1,000 acres in the next year.

Juan Palma, forest supervisor for the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, said the forest service accomplished that goal, and an additional 2,000 acres was subject to mechanical treatments, where logs are removed and brush is moved into piles. Later, the forest service burns the piles. Additionally, the logs removed are taken to Bently Agridynamics in Douglas County, Nev., and used for composting.

The increased role of Natural Resource Conservation Services, Lyons said, was illustrated when the morning tour looked at two creek restoration projects: Cold Creek and Trout Creek.

Cold Creek – previously just a dirt landscape – now is a flowing, meandering creek in a lush meadow because of an eight-year, $1.2 million collaboration of NRCS, the City of South Lake Tahoe and the California-Tahoe Conservation District.

Trout Creek is in the first phase of its restoration and could be equivalent to Cold Creek within three years.

Restoring creeks, and consequently restoring the meadows they run through, offers a variety of benefits, including improving the watershed, increasing wildlife habitat and trapping sediment in the meadow which otherwise would have ended up in the Lake.

Overall, Lyons said he felt good progress was being made from the 1997 Lake Tahoe Presidential Forum.

“I think we’re doing well,” he said. “Work at every level is in various stages, but we’re going to follow through with everything.”

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