USFS releases Lake Tahoe forest plan

Tom Lotshaw
People hike into Desolation Wilderness in the 2012 summer. Whether additional areas in the basin should receive the wilderness designation is part of the U.S. Forest Service's Forest Plan update.
File photo |

The U.S. Forest Service on Friday released a final plan to guide management of national forest lands in the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit for the next 15 years.

“The final plan for the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit represents the culmination of many years of work for the Forest Service and reflects many of the ideas and views expressed by members of the public and other agencies and groups,” Pacific Southwest Regional Forester Randy Moore said in a news release announcing the plan.

A draft plan generated about 18,500 public comments.

The forest plan enters a 60-day objection period. People who previously submitted formal comments can file written objections by Tuesday, Jan. 21 if they believe their comments were not addressed. That is followed by a 90-day resolution period for the Forest Service to work with objectors to determine if their concerns can be resolved.

The regional forester would then sign a record of decision for the revised forest plan to take effect.

“Whether or not the final plan reflects your comments, I want to assur you that we considered every comment seriously,” Nancy Gibson, forest supervisor for the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, said. “That 18,500 individuals and organizations took the time to comment on this plan gives me hope for the future of Lake Tahoe.”

The plan is accompanied by an environmental impact statement analyzing five alternatives.

Primary issues addressed by public comment include how actively the Forest Service should work to restore watersheds and aquatic ecosystems, how aggressively the Forest Service should manage forest health and hazardous fuels and whether recreation opportunities, facilities, roads and trails should be expanded or reduced.

The final plan continues active restoration of watersheds, streams and wildlife habitat, continues active fuels reduction, seeks to restore forest structure through tree-thinning and prescribed fire and allows for limited recreation expansion on higher-capability lands, according to the Forest Service.

Access to roads, trails and vehicle parking would remain about the same. The Forest Service said it would continue to work with partners to develop transportation alternatives for people to reach its facilities.

The final plan adds Stanford Rock Backcountry Area, about 3,800 acres between Blackwood and Ward canyons,but does not recommend new wilderness designations.

The Forest Service will hold two webinars to explain the final plan, highlight changes and outline the remainder of the plan revision process. The first will be from 5-6 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 9. The second will be from 2-3 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 14. Both will feature a brief presentation followed by a questern and answer perid and will be archived on the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit’s website.

The plan, final environmental impact statement and draft record of decision will be posted at Compact discs or print copies are available at the Forest Supervisor’s office, 35 College Drive, South Lake Tahoe, or by calling 530-543-2694.

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