An Ecosystem in Transition

For many centuries Lake Tahoe has been a mecca for those seeking beauty, peace, and abundance. The earliest  people here, the Native American Washoe Tribe, considered Lake Tahoe a sacred place, imbued with spiritual significance and full of life-giving qualities. Over the years it has come to mean this and other things to the many people who have entered and partaken of the wealth of this land and lake.

The miners and settlers who followed the explorers and the Washoes to the lower elevations of the Tahoe region found pristine forests of Jeffrey pine trees, interspersed with cedar and fir, all ripe for harvest.  Often, these newcomers had selfish, economic motives and interests: logging businesses on the lake to sustain the mines in Virginia City; steady streams of new settlers to serve; livestock which required grazing lands; widespread commercial fishing to harvest the native trout; and most of all, a new land to be exploited for all the commodities which could be wrested from a lush wilderness, a beautiful lake, and pure tributaries which fed the lake.

In the years that followed the 19th century degradation of Lake Tahoe's original forest, people have come here for many reasons.  Some have come for peace and solitude, wishing to escape the noise and congestion of the cities.  Others have come for recreation--hiking, boating, gaming, or skiing.  A few have come for scientific study of the lake, the wildfire, the flora and fauna.

What does Lake Tahoe and its forest mean to you?  A place to make a living? A place to get away, and enjoy yourself?  A laboratory for scientific study?  A beautiful work of nature to be nourished and protected?  Perhaps for you the Lake Tahoe Basin is some combination of all or several of the above.  Whatever it is to you, this information is dedicated to expanding your awareness of the conditions and potential of this unique and famous attraction.

A place like Lake Tahoe is a complex and fragile environment, not easily described, nor easily managed. The many elements of this ecosystem, people, wildlife, trees and other plants, water, soil and insects, all must find a way to comfortably coexist. The daunting task for everyone concerned about the welfare of Lake Tahoe, her forests and watersheds is to help create a hospitable environment in which nature can restore the damage wrought by humans over more than a century of neglect.



"The dynamic and complex interactions between and among living and non-living components and natural processes of the environments located within and around Lake Tahoe watersheds."

The ecosystem of Lake Tahoe needs a multi-pronged program of management techniques. No single panacea will do the job. The transition from illness to health will take time; and it will require expertise from people with a variety of backgrounds, so that our patient may know that she is well-loved during the healing process.

A team of land resource and protection agencies is taking many steps to help nature make Lake Tahoe well again. Known collectively as the Lake Tahoe Unified Steering Group for Forest Assessment and Protection, these agencies are engaged in many efforts to restore the viability and vitality of this beautiful land. But we can't do it alone. We need your help.

As you read other articles, we hope you will discover a special niche for yourself in this massive effort to restore Forest Health in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Your action can help make a difference in the recovery of this glorious creation of nature. Your involvement can determine whether or not Lake Tahoe, her forests, and all the plants and animals which inhabit that forest will be here in all their potential purity and diversity for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.

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