To Reduce our Community’s Wildfire Risk and Improve Forest Health by Effective Fuels Management Practices.
The suppression of natural fires starting in the late 1800’s has led to an accumulation of woody fuels including shrubs, small trees, and dead fuels lying on the ground which pose a high fire risk. Historically, fire used to shape the forests of the Lake Tahoe Basin, before the days of logging and settlement began. Frequent smaller fires were a natural part of the ecosystem and helped to maintain fuel loads, lowering the risk of catastrophic fire and maintaining an ecological balance. Knowing that many fires will be suppressed, reintroducing prescribed fire to the landscape along with fuel reduction efforts will help restore the balance of the ecosystem to better represent the pre-settlement era of the Lake Tahoe Basin.
Sice the mid-1990s, NLTFPD’s Fuels Management Division has been implementing fuels reduction programs that not only contribute to the reduction of wildfire risk in our community but also improve forest health. To date we have treated over 3000 acres in the Incline Village/Crystal Bay area by different methods.
The term “fuels” is used in the fire service as something that burns in the environment. We deal with the problem of an overstocked forest with dense brush that has led to the listing of Incline Village/Crystal Bay as an “Extreme Hazard” as defined in the Code Of Federal Registrars.
Manual fuel treatments consist of both brush and tree removal by hand to meet the above objectives. Where feasible, mechanical thinning involving heavy equipment is used to reduce cost and increase efficiency. Prescribed burning is an additional step to manual treatment. In some areas we burn the ground fuels after manual treatment has taken place. The burning not only reduces wildfire risk but promotes forest regeneration.
The Fuels Management Division conducts prescribed burning in the Fall. The burns are conducted under strict guidelines that follow a prescription. The district’s goal is to burn approximately 100 acres every year. Our burns are driven and guided by weather. We have to meet numerous weather and other parameters in order to conduct a burn. We also continuously strive to mitigate the effects of smoke in our community.