Forest Service to create urban buffer
The U.S. Forest Service has announced its decision to treat 3,136 acres of ailing South Shore forest with a comprehensive program of thinning, salvage logging and the creation of a buffer zone between the forest and residential areas.
Addressing the risk of wildfire in forested neighborhoods from Al Tahoe to Meyers, the Pioneer Project is the third large-scale project the Forest Service has launched in recent years to restore the health of Tahoe Basin forests.
The East Shore Project, covering 6,600 acres, will continue for a third year this summer, and the Forest Service gained approval last year for the 8,000-acre North Shore project.
The Pioneer Project will include the thinning of 5.4 million board-feet of green trees and the salvage logging of 2.6 million board-feet of dead and dying trees.
The heart of the project, though, will be the construction of fuel breaks, called Defensible Fuel Profile Zones, between urban areas and the forest. In those areas, all debris will be disposed of by burning or chipping. Outside the fuel breaks, the slash will be scattered and left in place.
Ninety-four percent of the logging will be conducted over winter snowfall.
In response to concerns about the removal of green trees, the Forest Service announced that it will not harvest living trees in stream zones outside the fuel breaks.
In an analysis of the six alternatives studied in an environmental assessment, the Forest Service concluded that restricting the project to just the construction of defensible corridors, or to the removal of dead and dying trees, would not improve forest health.
The decision was signed by Linda Massey, who was the acting forest supervisor for the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit following the retirement of Forest Supervisor Bob Harris. A 45-day appeal period began Tuesday and ends on May 30.
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