Tahoe Conservancy grants $5.2 million to reduce fire risk in basin

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The California Tahoe Conservancy has awarded two grants, totaling $5.2 million, to improve forest health and reduce wildfire risk in the Lake Tahoe Basin. The two grants include a $5,024,037 to the USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit to address public safety risks and replant trees in areas damaged by the Caldor Fire, and $197,000 to the South Tahoe Public Utility District to reduce wildfire risk around Tahoe’s critical water and sewer infrastructure by developing a vegetation management plan for water providers on the California side of the basin. 

Cal Fire and California Conservation Corps crews clear brush on Tahoe Conservancy property in the Chiapa Drive/Tolteca Court neighborhood in August.
Bill Rozak/Tahoe Daily Tribune

Funding for these grants comes from California’s 2021 wildfire package. These grants advance the goals of the 2020 Shared Stewardship Agreement between California and the Forest Service to increase treated acres of forest and rangelands in California. 

“I am excited for the Conservancy to be able to support our partners in these important efforts,” said Conservancy Board Chair and El Dorado County District 5 Supervisor Sue Novasel. “The Caldor Fire showed how important it is for us to work together to improve the health of our forests and to speed up work that reduces wildfire risk to our communities.” 

Grant for post-Caldor Fire work on national forest lands

This grant supports the LTBMU’s efforts to protect public safety and restore lands damaged by the 2021 Caldor Fire, which burned almost 10,000 acres within the basin, mostly on National Forest lands. In addition to the fire damage, firefighters bulldozed approximately 55 miles of fire lines to contain the fire and as a contingency to protect South Shore communities. The LTBMU will thin 1,240 acres of forest impacted by the Caldor Fire, removing fire-killed or weakened trees that pose a hazard to roads, trails, private property boundaries, and recreation sites. This thinning also reduces wildfire risk. LTBMU will also reforest and restore a combined 247 acres of fire-damaged forest and bulldozed areas. 

Reducing wildfire risk to water supply infrastructure

This grant supports work to reduce wildfire risk to critical water and sewer facilities. Damage to such facilities could be catastrophic for firefighters battling a large wildfire. In 2021, STPUD completed a fire vulnerability assessment of water and sewer infrastructure on the California side of the basin, supported by a prior Conservancy grant. STPUD will use the new grant funding to complete a vegetation management plan to reduce wildfire risk around infrastructure identified in the fire vulnerability assessment, and to complete related environmental review and permitting. Planning will cover STPUD infrastructure as well as Tahoe City Public Utility District, North Tahoe Public Utility District, and local private water companies.

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