Lake Tahoe, Stateline, NV – The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) Governing Board on Wednesday approved key updates to forest management ordinances that will streamline large-scale fuel reduction projects and continue reducing the threat of catastrophic wildfire in the Tahoe Basin, the agency said today.

The updates improve the ability of forest managers to use vehicles and equipment in sensitive stream zones during winter months when the work will not harm the ecosystem. Vehicles were already allowed to work in these areas over snow, and can now operate over hard, frozen ground as well. The targeted code updates bolster the environment’s resilience to climate change and reduces the threat of catastrophic wildfire.  Researchers predict snow levels will continue to decline as temperatures in the Sierra Nevada continue to rise, and this change will make it easier for fire protection agencies and other land managers to improve forest health throughout the year.

“Climate change impacts are front-and-center here in Tahoe, and how we manage our forests in the face of rising temperatures and increased fire threat will play a pivotal role in Tahoe’s future,” TRPA Executive Director Joanne S. Marchetta said. “This update will give our partner agencies across the region more certainty, clarity, and consistency so they can continue to protect our communities without harming our environment.”

The updates could also help large-scale fuel reduction and thinning work such as the planned Lake Tahoe West project—a 59,000 acre treatment of dense forests along Tahoe’s West Shore, according to TRPA.

TRPA, fire districts, and forest managers formed the Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team in the aftermath of the 2007 Angora Wildfire that engulfed 246 structures and burned 3,100 acres near Tahoe’s south shore. Since 2008, 57,000 acres of forest restoration projects have been completed around neighborhoods—twice the acres treated in the ten years before Angora—and 22,000 more acres will be treated in the next five years. The USDA Forest Service is working on completion of the 10,000-acre South Shore Fuels Reduction Project. Additionally, TRPA has worked with utility companies on tree removal, limbing, and treatment of wider zones near power lines, according to the agency.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency leads the cooperative effort to preserve, restore, and enhance the unique natural and human environment of the Lake Tahoe Region, while improving local communities, and people’s interactions with our irreplaceable environment. For additional information, contact Jeff Cowen, Public Information Officer, at 775-589-5278.