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Pathway 2007 Gathers Public Input on Vegetation and Scenic Visions for Tahoe

TitlePathway 2007 Gathers Public Input on Vegetation and Scenic Visions for Tahoe
Author/CreatorCobourn, John; Purdy, Shelly; Segale, Heather M.
Related item(s)Press Release available at
Date Original2005-01-11
Summary/DescriptionLake Tahoe Report Segment #142 - Pathway 2007 Gathers Public Input on Vegetation and Scenic Visions for Tahoe" (Air Date: Nov. 8, 2005).
SubjectLandscape protection -- Tahoe, Lake (Calif. and Nev.)
LocationLake Tahoe (Calif. and Nev.)
Tahoe, Lake (Calif and Nev)
CollectionThe Lake Tahoe Report
Original PublisherLake Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition (
Electronic PublisherUniversity of Nevada, Reno - Department of Teaching and Learning Technologies
Ordering and Permissions InformationFor more information, contact the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, or 775-832-4138.
Date Digital2006-02-15
RelationWindows Media Player
Resource TypeMoving Image
Contributing InstitutionUniversity of Nevada, Reno
TranscriptionSegment 142 - The ambitious process to create long-term plans for Tahoe's future has resulted in a set of proposed "desired conditions" that create a vision for the future. That vision includes what the public wants to see, what resource specialists see as achievable and measurable, and the requirements of federal and state laws for the environment. This is the first of four articles that will delve into the components of the vision for the Tahoe Basin. Today's article will examine the desired conditions for vegetation and scenic environmental thresholds. The way the scenery and vegetation should look in the Tahoe Basin is a topic of major importance for planners putting together the Pathway 2007 Management Plans. Pathway 2007 will guide the way natural resources and urban planning will be managed in the Tahoe Basin over the next 20 or more years, as well as influence regulations policies. The Pathway 2007 Evaluation Report is an important document that has been released and is now available at It addresses the current conditions of Tahoe's vegetation and scenic resources, among other issues, and sets forth a list of "desired conditions" as targets for the next 20 years. The forest around Lake Tahoe has been drastically altered over the past 150 years. In the late 1800s, the basin was used for clear-cut logging during the Comstock mining boom in Virginia City. When the forest grew back in the 20th century, wildfires were quickly extinguished, denying the forest its natural fuel reduction process. As a result, today we have a forest thick with mature trees that are typically about the same age and size. "What we have today is a forest that has much more understory vegetation and denser concentrations of mature trees, " explains Dave Fournier of the USDA Forest Service. "The combination of fire suppression and Comstock logging has resulted in an unhealthy forest, " he says. He also stresses that unhealthy forest conditions are not universal in the basin, but are most common closest to where people live, in the "wildland-urban interface" area. The vegetation chapter of the Pathway 2007 Evaluation Report defines the vision of the forests of Tahoe's future. That forest is described as "a mosaic of diverse plant communities, " capable of supporting biodiversity, endangered species, rich habitat, water quality, air quality, recreation opportunities, and scenic resources. The trees need to be more widely spaced, allowing native shrubs and plants to grow underneath them. This will also help to achieve the desired future conditions for scenic values around Lake Tahoe. When tree density is reduced, the forest becomes less susceptible to drought stress and the attendant problems of disease and bark beetle infestations. Restored and healthy forests are also far less vulnerable to catastrophic wildfire. In fact, one of the desired conditions for vegetation is to reduce the intensity of fire, especially near urban areas. Because there is so much fuel in our forest, both live and dead, wildfires here will burn hotter than they would in a healthier forest, killing large trees that could survive less intense fires in healthier conditions. According to Rex Norman of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, "We may never be able to restore the forests and vegetation of the basin as they were before settlement, but we can recover much of the health and appearance of the original Tahoe forests." The chapter on scenic resources echoes the refrain of other chapters, that the strength of our economy is linked with protection of the "scenic identity" of the Tahoe Basin. It defines two desired conditions for 2027. The first is that "the views from the region's major roadways, Lake Tahoe, public recreation areas, trails, and communities are of the dominant natural-appearing forest, meadows, mountain backdrop, and shoreline of Lake Tahoe." The second desired condition for scenic resources is that "the built environment of the Lake Tahoe Basin serves as a model for successfully integrating natural landscape attributes and cultural, community-valued aesthetic attributes, " and that "the Tahoe built environment reflects and harmonizes with the attributes of Tahoe's natural scenery." For each desired condition defined in the Evaluation Report, there are also proposed indicators and standards to allow tracking of progress toward agreed upon goals over the next 20 years. To get involved with establishing the 20-year goals for Lake Tahoe, visit There is a direct link to the Evaluation Report there, as well as ways to participate in the public process. The next Pathway 2007 meeting, focusing on socioeconomics and noise, is on Nov. 10 at the North Tahoe Conference Center in Kings Beach.

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