Forest Service reviewing Burke Creek restoration and Tahoe West Shore wildfire plans
STATELINE, Nev. — As part of continued work to preserve Tahoe Basin area watersheds and improve lake clarity, the U.S. Forest is moving forward with a project to restore the Burke Creek drainage — where it passes under U.S. Highway 50 near Stateline. The collaborative effort between the Forest Service, Douglas County, Nevada Department of Transportation and Nevada Tahoe Resource Conservation District is currently undergoing environmental review. It’s also open to public comment on the Forest Service’s Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit website.
“It’s mainly a restoration project,” Forest Service spokeswoman Lisa Herron said.
Describing future benefit, Nevada Tahoe Conservation District environmental scientist Michael Pook added, “In the long run it will improve stream function.”
The current alignment for the creek includes a significant redirection away from the stream’s original route, passing under the highway and established commercial properties. Drainage from one of the area’s parking lots also flows directly into the stream.
“It’s just not a straight shot across the highway,” Pook said. “It doesn’t really allow the stream to access the flood plain.”
The existing draft of the environmental assessment includes both a no-action alternative and a proposed action. The proposed action would redirect the stream directly under the highway and into a new channel more in line with it’s original path prior to commercial development in the 1950s and ‘60s.
The project would restore the original flood plain and create close to 900 feet of new stream channels. The new route would help filter stream flow through marshland and meadows and contribute to improved lake clarity. Additionally, the project would increase the size of the channel that passes under the highway to alleviate flooding concerns.
“That section of highway has a flooding issue,” Herron said.
As part of the proposed action, 9,000 square feet of parking space would be removed to accommodate the restoration. Existing commercial drainage would be upgraded as well.
If approved construction on the multi-million dollar project could start as early as August of 2016 and would likely be completed in two phases over the course of two summers.
More information is available at http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/ltbmu/BurkeCreek.
WEST SHORE WILDFIRE MANAGEMENT
The Tahoe Basin Forest Service is also seeking comment on plans for comprehensive fuels reduction, forest health and wildfire prevention measures on the West Shore.
The West Shore Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) Hazardous Fuels Reduction and Forest Health Project would encompass approximately 4,875 acres of forest extending from Emerald Bay to Burton Creek State Park.
“This is a very important project,” Forest Service fuels specialist Kyle Jacobson said. “This would put the West Shore on par with what we’ve been doing (around) the rest of the lake.”
Plans include thinning the forest and reduction of excess fuels through removal and prescribed burning.
“Safetywise, its been shown again and again that these treatments are effective,” Jacobson said, referring to both fire prevention and forest health.
The full proposal is available for review at http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/ltbmu/WestShoreWUI.