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Tahoe's Fish, Wildlife and Wetlands Being Considered in Pathway Planning

TitleTahoe's Fish, Wildlife and Wetlands Being Considered in Pathway Planning
Author/CreatorCobourn, John; Purdy, Shelly; Segale, Heather M.
Related item(s)Press Release available at
Date Original2005-01-11
Summary/DescriptionLake Tahoe Report Segment #144 - "Tahoe's Fish, Wildlife and Wetlands Being Considered in Pathway Planning" (Air Date: Nov. 22, 2005).
SubjectCutthroat trout -- Tahoe, Lake, Region (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 144 - On Dec. 1, at the Chateau in Incline Village, the Pathway 2007 Forum will consider proposed desired conditions for wildlife, fisheries and stream environment zones (SEZs commonly referred to as wetlands). The Pathway Forum is a citizens' committee formed to ensure the public has a voice in planning for Lake Tahoe's future. While healthy, undisturbed stream zones are an important factor in protecting Tahoe's water quality, they are also critical for maintaining fish and wildlife health in the basin. A document called the draft Evaluation Report, available online at, states, "Stream environment zones are complete ecosystems, so it is necessary to monitor the health of each of their component parts to assess their overall health." The proposed vision for SEZs (including waters, wetlands, riparian or streamside areas, meadows and beaches) is to maintain and enhance the natural functions and ecological integrity of SEZs, along with the societal functions and values SEZs provide. Naturally functioning SEZs help purify water and provide important flood control and wildlife habitat functions. Dense vegetation within SEZs protects stream banks from soil erosion that could release harmful suspended sediment and cloud the lake. The Lake Tahoe Basin Regional Plan set goals for restoration of disturbed SEZs in urban areas two decades ago. Of the 4, 400 acres of SEZs in urban areas that have been "disturbed, developed or subdivided, " the threshold goal was to restore 25 percent or 1, 100 acres. To date, approximately 365.5 acres of SEZ lands have been restored within the urban boundary. There is little data available for evaluating how well these restored SEZs are functioning. One of the purposes of conducting the Pathway 2007 threshold review is to establish better indicators and standards for tracking actual progress toward this kind of restoration goal. SEZ experts are creating a basinwide inventory of all disturbed and restored SEZs as one way to improve progress. The Evaluation Report states that technical experts in wildlife, fisheries and vegetation should draft indicators and standards for SEZ biological functions and values. The wildlife and fisheries desired conditions include three categories: the biological integrity of terrestrial ecosystems, the sustainability of special-status species (threatened, endangered, rare, special-interest or sensitive species), and the biological integrity of aquatic ecosystems. The vision for wildlife and fisheries is to have a full range of diverse habitats and ecological processes that support a wide variety of native species. With regard to fisheries, the proposed vision is to provide environmental conditions that support cold-water species adapted to nutrient-poor or "oligotrophic" aquatic conditions. Lake Tahoe is an oligotrophic lake, meaning it's extremely clear and cold. However, because of past alterations in the food web, non-native fish dominate Lake Tahoe. The report states, "This condition will not limit attempts to restore native fish assemblages to the region." Land stewardship should emphasize restoration and maintenance of intact and connected aquatic habitats and natural processes to maintain native aquatic plant and animal communities, not just fish. Some water bodies in the basin historically did not support fish. Terrestrial ecosystems are sometimes called "uplands" to distinguish them from areas significantly influenced by standing and flowing water. However, many upland wildlife species depend on fully functioning aquatic environments to fulfill their needs for water, cover, and food. The lake environment is interwoven in many ways. Just as the community and the environment depend on each other, so do various components of the ecosystem. The ability to achieve wildlife and fishery goals will require that planning and conservation actions consider the interconnectedness of environmental resources in other areas. For example, water quality depends on the health of soils, vegetation, stream zones and air quality. Both aquatic and terrestrial species also depend on healthy stream zones, and all depend on healthy soils and vegetation. Next week, in the fourth article of this Pathway 2007 series, we will look at the proposed desired conditions for the interdependent air quality, water quality and soils resource topics.

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