Forest Service prescribed burns unlikely to limit Tahoe area trail access |

Forest Service prescribed burns unlikely to limit Tahoe area trail access

Sebastian Foltz
Thinning forests and conducting prescribed burns may help preserve trees in future droughts and bark beetle epidemics, according to a recent study by the University of California, Davis.

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — U.S. Forest Service prescribed burn operations will continue on the South Shore this week, pending weather conditions. Current fire management efforts are ongoing in Christmas Valley near Meyers, Calif.

Work is being done on federally owned urban lots on Grass Lake Road off of State Highway 89 in the neighborhood near the Christmas Valley trailhead — a popular multi-use trail. The efforts will not impact trail access and are expected to continue through the week. Depending on conditions, crews could be there for roughly 10 days.

“We don’t close trails for prescribed fires,” Tahoe Basin Forest Service spokeswoman Cheva Gabor said in an email regarding the burn project. “You may not want to be riding through that area if it is smoky.”

Forest Service fuels specialist Kyle Jacobson — who is overseeing operations in the Christmas Valley — said crews are covering roughly 5 acres a day of the planned 122-acre burn site.

“We try to minimize impact,” Jacobson said. “Right now we’re just getting started, so we’re just doing little bits at a time.”

Burn projects will continue into November. While the Grass Lake Road burn is the Forest Service’s only active effort on the South Shore, the Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team — a collaborative effort between local fire agencies — has other projects planned that could start this week. They are also currently conducting work near Meeks Bay on the West Shore. Additionally, California state officials have been burning parcels in Burton Creek State Park and Sugar Pine State Park near the west and northwestern shores of Lake Tahoe.

“It’s all depending on the weather,” Jacobson said. “We do have several much larger projects in the works.”


If conditions allow, fire crews may start prescribed burn efforts on a roughly 200-acre section of land near South Tahoe High School and Tahoe Mountain in part of the Angora Burn area — the 2007 wildfire which claimed roughly 3,100 acres outside of South Lake Tahoe. Jacobson said those efforts could also put the other projects on hold and may begin as early as this week. Fire crews from other projects may be called on to assist.

“That’s going to be a major one,” he said. “When we get into those units we try to go for bigger chunks.”

While that project will be substantially larger, Jacobson also said it should not drastically effect area residents.

“There should be really limited impacts to those areas — less than a week,” he explained, but he could not offer a more definitive timeline. “It really depends. It could be two weeks out; it could be two months out. It may get pushed off until next year.”

A number of factors go into any prescribed burns. Fire crews pay special attention to weather patterns and potential for smoke dispersal when considering a burn effort.

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