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League to Save Lake Tahoe hits the snow

Rick Chandler

The weather was beautiful, the air was crisp and the League to Save Lake Tahoe thinks it may have the beginnings of a strong tradition.

It’s great to talk about nature preservation, but nothing beats actually strapping on a pair of snowshoes and getting out there.

“We all had a great time, and I think we learned a lot,” said Dave Roberts, interim executive director of the League To Save Lake Tahoe. Roberts led an expedition of 25 people on a two-mile hike from the U.S. Forest Service Visitors Center to Camp Shelley on Saturday.



Their mission? To study and identify the trees of the area, and to discuss old-growth forests in the Tahoe Basin.

“It’s good to have a forum for people to get together and discuss issues that effect our forests,” said Roberts, who owns degrees in environmental biology and botany and has been with the LTSLT for about six months.



“The state of old-growth forests in the Tahoe Basin in generally poor. As many people know, there was extensive logging in the 1870s for the Comstock Lode, and much of it was destroyed. It’s important for people to recognize what an old-growth forest is, and how long it takes to regenerate.”

Estimates vary as to how much old-growth forest remains in the basin – experts claim the number is somewhere between 6 and 26 percent. But in addition to the actual health of the trees, Roberts emphasized the fact that erosion also plays a large role in the overall health of the forest.

“We think of the Comstock Era as the time when most of the damage was done,” Roberts said. “But at the recent Tahoe Research Symposium, one of the things we learned was that, along with a number of other things, sedimentation rates today are almost equivalent to those in the 1870s. The erosion damage is almost identical to what it was in the clear-cut days.

“But as the problems were (mostly temporary) in the 1870s, the current problems will be with us in perpetuity unless we act now.”

The League To Save Lake Tahoe will play host to similar nature hikes once a month, focusing on forest ecology, wildflower study and bird surveys. Transportation will be provided from the LTSLT office (near the “Y”) to the trailhead. Information: (530) 541-5388.

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