U.S. Forest Service approves fuel reduction on 10,000 acres of national forest land near Lake Tahoe, California; eight-year project involves hand and mechanical thinning, prescribed burns

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, California , January 13, 2012 () – The U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) has approved a project that will reduce wildfire risk to communities on Lake Tahoe's South Shore and restore the health of the area's forests. The South Shore Fuel Reduction and Healthy Forest Restoration Project will thin trees and brush on more than 10,000 acres of national forest system land from the Nevada state line to Cascade Lake.

The Forest Service coordinated extensively with other public land management agencies and local fire protection districts to ensure that the fuels reduction work would complement local Community Wildfire Protection Plans. The project includes thinning by crews with chainsaws (hand thinning), as well as removing trees using tracked and rubber-tired equipment (mechanical thinning). Prescribed fire would be used both to remove hazardous forest fuels and restore the environment.

In addition to providing defensible space and reducing the risk of high intensity fire, the project would create forests better able to resist drought, insects and disease, as well as restore stream environment zones, meadows and aspen stands.

The Forest Service plans to move forward with hand thinning as soon as conditions allow. The mechanical thinning will undergo permitting by the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board prior to implementation. The project will take approximately eight years to complete.

"The fuel reduction efforts outlined in the South Shore project are critical to protecting our communities from wildfire," said LTBMU Forest Supervisor Nancy Gibson. "We will continue to work closely with the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, and our goal is to begin implementing the project this summer."

Detailed project information is available online at http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/ltbmu/SouthShoreFuelReduction.

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