Forest thinning is underway at Lake Tahoe. But does it work?
Parts of the north and south shores of Lake Tahoe are closed starting this week as the U.S. Forest Service thins thousands of acres of timberland.
Public areas and roads are closed near South Tahoe High School, the Sand Pit and in north Tahoe near Brockway Summit. Crews with heavy equipment are bringing down trees across hundreds of acres of overgrown forest. The goal is to remove fuel for future fires.
Brian Garrett of the U.S. Forest Service says there is increasing evidence that forest thinning works.
“Over the last several years we have more and more examples of where that is happening and the research are finding that the treatments are being effective,” says Garrett. “A good example of that is the Angora Fire in South Lake Tahoe.”
The Angora Fire in 2007 burned through 480 acres where forest fuel was reduced. Garrett says the thinning reduced the density of the canopy, so the fire burned on the ground, not in the treetops and crews were able to stop it. The thinning this year will stop during Memorial Day Weekend and when fire danger is high.
Garrett says over the past decade, hundreds of new jobs have been created by forest thinning operations and he expects the trend to continue. Crews can only thin about 1,000 acres a year because of restrictions on funding, personnel and time.