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Do We Have Old-growth Forests at Tahoe?

TitleDo We Have Old-growth Forests at Tahoe?
Author/CreatorCobourn, John; Purdy, Shelly; Segale, Heather M.
Related item(s)Press Release available at
Date Original2003-04-21
Summary/DescriptionLake Tahoe Report Segment #17 - "Old Growth & Forest Health" (Air Date: May 27, 2003). Representatives from the Sierra Club and the U.S. Forest Service discuss the role of "old growth" trees in preserving and keeping the Tahoe ecosystem healthy.
SubjectOld growth forests -- Tahoe, Lake, Region (Calif. and Nev.)
Trees -- 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 Digital2004-12-06
RelationRequires Windows Media Player
Resource TypeMoving Image
Contributing InstitutionUniversity of Nevada, Reno
TranscriptionSegment 17 - "Old Growth & Forest Health" Air Date: May 27 ((Anchor/Intro)) When you talk about trees in the forest, "old growth" is a buzzword often used to describe the most desirable trees of them all. But what exactly does "old growth" mean and why is it so important to a healthy forest - Shelly Purdy explains in tonight's Lake Tahoe Report. ((TAKE PKG)) ((Track 1)) When you think of old growth, the first thing that comes to mind is huge trees standing tall above the spindly newcomers of the forest. And for the most part that's true. Old growth trees are big and old - and have survived decades of varying conditions including drought, fire, logging and insect infestations. But at Lake Tahoe, defining old growth can sometimes be tricky. ((SOT - old growth - tape @ 7:13, Michael Donahoe, Sierra Club Conservation Co-Chair)) "Because it varies by species. You can have a 10 inch lodgepole pine that's old growth and people would think nothing of cutting it down or not seeing it as old growth but it is." ((Track 2)) That's part of the reason why there are such strict regulations about cutting trees in the Tahoe basin. Conservationists and forest managers here want to preserve old growth - not only because old growth stands have such a majestic quality about them- but also for the benefits old growth trees provide to the surrounding habitat. ((sot old growth tape @ 3:45, Rex Norman, United States Forest Service)) "There's a lot of sunlight. There's a lot of ground cover. A good understory that's growing, so the diversity is a big key part of forest health." ((Sot old growth tape @ 8:25)) "There's a canopy of lichen here at Tahoe that doesn't start growing on a tree till it's 150 years old, so if we don't have old growth trees we don't have the full diversity for the animal kingdom and the plant community up here." ((Track 3)) The Tahoe basin was at one time a canopy of both old and new growth - a healthy forest rich in diversity. But due to clear-cut logging and development, today only 40 stands of old growth trees remain at Lake Tahoe. That's a mere 5-percent of the majestic big trees that once stood along the lake's shore and surrounding mountains. With the lake Tahoe environmental education coalition, I'm Shelly Purdy for kolo news channel 8. ((Anchor/Tag)) Because old growth trees are so tall and their limbs are so far off the ground, they are resistant to wildfires. That's another reason why forest managers want to protect old growth trees - to help them manage fire in the Tahoe Basin. If you would like more information about old growth trees, visit our website at

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