Forest Service seeks input on forest thinning in power line corridors at Lake Tahoe | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Forest Service seeks input on forest thinning in power line corridors at Lake Tahoe

In an effort to reduce the risk of forest fires, the Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit and Liberty Utilities are considering a thinning project along power line corridors on approximately 6,300 acres of National Forest System lands in the Tahoe Basin.

But first, they want to hear from the public.

The comment period on the project officially opens today, April 19.

The Liberty Utilities Resilience Corridors Project would help create healthier and more resilient forests, while reducing the risk of unwanted wildfires that could ignite either from vegetation coming in contact with utility infrastructure or failures of infrastructure on approximately 55 miles of power lines, according to the Forest Service

“We are proud to build on our existing partnership with Liberty Utilities and our shared commitment of reducing threats to critical infrastructure and increasing landscape resilience,” LTBMU Forest Supervisor Jeff Marsolais said in a press release.

The project consists of vegetation treatments in forested corridors adjacent to Liberty’s power lines and would occur in untreated areas as well as connect previously treated areas. Treatment options would include forest thinning, removal of hazardous, diseased or insect infected trees and prescribed burning.

Treatments will follow LTBMU Land Management Plan guidelines and would include best management practices and resource protection measures compliant with the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board and environmental thresholds set by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

Treatment methods, according to the Forest Service, may include forest thinning using hand and mechanical equipment, cable yarding and prescribed fire operations that involve pile and understory burning. These types of mechanical operations generally require closure of the project area during operations due to the hazards posed by heavy equipment and falling trees.

The Forest Service will send out updates to inform the public of possible impacts to trails or recreation areas.

Work could begin as early as late summer and would be conducted primarily between June and the end of October, though some operations could take place over the snow when feasible.

The proposed action and scoping letter with instructions on how to comment are available at go.usa.gov/xmgxT. Comments will be accepted for 30-days, starting April 19. Comments are most useful if submitted by May 19, according to the Forest Service.