In late August 2021, the USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) and the National Forest Foundation (NFF) successfully completed 242 acres of forest thinning and fuels reduction in Ward Creek. The work is part of the West Shore Wildland Urban Interface Fuels Reduction Project being implemented to protect communities and improve forest health along the west shore of Lake Tahoe. The thinning and fuels reduction treatments were funded by a grant from the California Wildlife Conservation Board.

The Ward Creek Project improved forest structure and reduced fire risks to surrounding homes through low-impact mechanical thinning, removal of biomass, and mastication of small trees. The recent Caldor Fire highlighted how such fuels reduction efforts can help protect neighborhoods from wildfire. The project also removed encroaching conifers around Ward Creek to promote riparian vegetation such as aspen, willow, and meadow grasses that provide important wildlife habitat.

The West Shore Wildland Urban Interface Fuels Reduction Project is one of several ongoing efforts that complement the broader Lake Tahoe West Restoration Partnership, a multi-stakeholder collaborative effort to restore forest and watershed resilience and protect communities on 59,000 acres of Lake Tahoe’s west shore. Lead agencies of Lake Tahoe West are currently planning forest thinning and restoration projects across more of the west shore landscape. Lake Tahoe West is a high priority under Lake Tahoe’s comprehensive Environmental Improvement Program, an unparalleled partnership to restore and enhance Tahoe’s environment.

“It’s exciting to see projects like Ward Creek that support the goals of Lake Tahoe West being completed on the west shore,” said Sarah Di Vittorio, NFF Program Manager and Lake Tahoe West Project Manager. “Lake Tahoe West aims to scale up forest restoration while also restoring meadows and riparian areas to support native plants and animals and provide habitat as the climate warms. The Ward Creek Project directly addresses these goals.”

“The collaborative work between the LTBMU and NFF on the Ward Creek Project is different from the conventional forest management approach where projects are led by a single agency”, said LTBMU Vegetation Management Staff Officer, Victor Lyon. “We intend to continue using this collaborative approach in Lake Tahoe West. This collaboration will allow us to increase the pace and scale of fuel reduction and forest health projects across the Tahoe Basin.”

The NFF and LTBMU have entered into a Master Stewardship Agreement to ensure forest health and resilience projects continue across the LTBMU. These organizations are also committed to providing the public information about forest health projects. To receive alerts about LTBMU projects, please follow the Forest Service on Twitter or Facebook. Learn more about the NFF’s work in Tahoe at our Tahoe Treasured Landscape webpage.

National Forest Foundation