Rehabilitation begins today
Experts will begin work today to rehabilitate the 670 acres of trees and underbrush that burned in the Gondola Fire.
The fire didn’t destroy everything in its path. The crowns of hundreds of pine and fir trees are still green, as are many streambeds.
“Although there are areas where the fire burned with extreme intensity, the fire appears more of an underburn of trees,” said Maribeth Gustafson, U.S. Forest Service supervisor at the Lake Tahoe Basin.
“The stream environment zones are still green and intact, at least as far as I could see from the air,” Gustafson said. “They will help a great deal to filter the runoff. It’s really good news.”
Because erosion control is key in preserving Lake Tahoe’s clarity, rehab of the land will involve minimizing water runoff with strategically placed mounds of dirt and leaving downed trees in place. It also may include tree planting and revegetation, Gustafson said.
Heavenly Ski Resort is working with the Forest Service to help repair burned areas.
“We are actually supplying water on the line at Edgewood Bowl ski run, working side-by-side with the firefighters,” said Andrew Strain, director of planning at the resort.
“We want to restore and get quick ground cover to keep the soil in place so it doesn’t end up in Lake Tahoe,” Strain said. “It’s a process we’re very good at. We work together with the Forest Service every summer.”
“Mop-up,” as it’s known in the fire protection circles, began Wednesday as firefighters extinguished flareups and smoking embers with shovels, pick-axes and water.
The process also involves cutting free any “snags,” or dangerously positioned trees that could injure a firefighter at work.
Bruce Lodge, a fire captain stationed near the Boulder lift, said his crew has orders to mop-up 300 feet inside the fire line.
“We’re putting everything out completely,” Lodge said. “We’re mixing the dirt, spraying water, scraping hot coals off big trees. We’re putting it out step-by-step.”