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    Elected officials, agency representatives and stakeholders representing many segments of the Lake Tahoe Basin community have all raised concerns over the limited progress in reducing excess vegetation biomass in Stream Environment Zones (SEZ) and on steep slopes (collectively referred to as sensitive areas) in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Limited access, the potential for substantial environmental impacts arising from treatment methods, and a restricted field season all limit options for managing the excess biomass and translate into the completion of few projects with high cost and long timelines. Although excess forest biomass is a Basin-wide problem, there is special concern over the existing situation in sensitive areas because of the potential to accelerate the spread of a wildfire and propagate the fire over a larger area (Murphy et al., 2007). Riparian forests now have some of the heaviest ladder and surface fuel loads of any Sierran forest communities because they are less moisture limited than upland areas and are highly productive (Bisson et al. 2003; Stephens et al. 2004). Following a severe crown fire, streams feeding into Lake Tahoe could receive and then transport substantial loads of sediment, nutrient, and debris flows affecting lake clarity and beach conditions (Byron and Goldman 1989; Stephens et al. 2004). High intensity fires can also render steep slopes highly susceptible to wind and water erosion (Carroll et al., 2007). In the aftermath of the Angora Fire, there is heightened interest in advancing the strategies and practices available to implement vegetation management projects in sensitive areas. However, there is recognition that we need approaches that optimize efficiency and effectiveness, while minimizing collateral environmental impacts.

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    Elliot, William; Miller, Wally; Hartsough, Bruce; Stephens, Scott. 2009. Vegetation management in sensitive areas of the Lake Tahoe Basin: A workshop to evaluate risks and advance existing strategies and practices [Independent review panel report]. Incline Village, NV: Tahoe Science Consortium. 30 p.


    Lake Tahoe Basin, vegetation management, environmental impacts

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