Backyard conservation blooms in Tahoe |

Backyard conservation blooms in Tahoe

Andy Bourelle

While residents may hear about local, state and federal efforts to preserve Lake Tahoe, local conservation officials want to remind people they can do their part without leaving their own yard.

The Backyard Conservation Program at Lake Tahoe – something stemming from the 1997 Presidential Summit at Lake Tahoe – started in the spring and, so far, is a success.

Suzanne Pearce, district manager of the Tahoe Resource and Nevada Tahoe conservation districts, said the Lake Tahoe effort’s success has been surprising and is serving as an example for the national Backyard Conservation project.

Through the Tahoe program, information about backyard conservation is available to residents. Additionally, Backyard Conservation Program Coordinator Genah Murphy can make site visits. She provides information about backyard conservation, offers advice specifically on residents’ yards and gives them seeds of plants native to Lake Tahoe.

“The idea is to provide sort of low-maintenance vegetation solutions, to give them suggestions about working on their yards,” Murphy said. “There are benefits for them and for the lake.”

The next step for the program, Pearce said, is to have “block parties,” where a resident who already received guidance is willing to host a small neighborhood workshop at their home.

“We’d like people to call us to volunteer to be hosts for these neighborhood block parties,” she said. “That way we can tailor the workshop for the neighborhood, because they will have similar yards and similar problems. For us, the block party would be a chance to reach more people.”

Through backyard conservation, residents can minimize erosion on their property, learn how to incorporate defensible space into their landscaping, better understand the best way to irrigate their plants, learn how to make their yards more inviting to wildlife and more.

Lake Tahoe’s clarity benefits when residents conserve water, feed their plants without harming the lake, improve habitat for wildlife and keep soil from eroding.

Pearce said the project emphasizes using plants native to Lake Tahoe, and a list of native plants is available through the project.

Since starting the project, they’ve had more than 200 requests for the native plants list, about 30 site visits and information has been provided to more than 100 people.

Local partnerships with the South Tahoe Public Utility District, Kingsbury General Improvement District, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and the Cooperating Agencies of Tahoe Regreen have helped make the project possible, Pearce said.

The Backyard Conservation Program at Lake Tahoe is funded by a $8,000 grant from the California Department of Conservation, and the conservation district hopes to obtain more funding and keep the project going next year.

For more information, residents are encouraged to contact Murphy at 541-4318.

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