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Prescribed Fire: Managing Smoke and Fire in the Tahoe Basin

TitlePrescribed Fire: Managing Smoke and Fire in the Tahoe Basin
Author/CreatorCobourn, John; Purdy, Shelly; Segale, Heather M.
Related item(s)Press Release available at
Date Original2003-10-03
Summary/DescriptionLake Tahoe Report Segment #38 - "Prescribed Fire: Managing Smoke and Fire in the Tahoe Basin" (Air Date: October 21, 2003). Officials at Bliss State Park discuss using prescribed burning which reintroduces small, low-burning fires in order to avoid the out-of-control, crown-type fires that happen in a wildfire.
SubjectPrescribed burning -- Tahoe, Lake, Watershed (Calif. and Nev.)
Forest thinning -- Tahoe, Lake, Watershed (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 38 "Prescribed Burn" Air Date: 10/21/03 Anchor Intro: Now that fall is in the air you may be seeing more smoke in the sky. Fall is not only the season for turning leaves and colder temperatures, but also the season for prescribed burning. Shelly Purdy explains in tonight's Lake Tahoe Report. ((Take PKG)) ((Track 1)) If you drive along the west shore of Lake Tahoe near Bliss State Park, you'll see the signs already up along the roadside. State part officials are planning a prescribed burn this fall, and they're now waiting for the ideal conditions before they ignite any flames. Two years of work has already gone into to the forest here - in preparation for burning. The trees have been thinned and pruned, the debris has been chipped in some areas, and the remaining slash has been piled. Those piles will then be burned all in the effort to reduce the amount of fuel in the forest. ((sot @ 13:49, Tamara Sasaki, California State Parks)) "Without doing this you risk the catastrophic fires." ((cut to sot @ 17:27ish)) "a fire that would instead of just be a little bit of smoke and maybe a few trees burned to something catastrophic where we basically have stand replacement. No trees, bare soil and burnt and ugly." ((Track 2)) What many people don't realize is fire played a huge role in the evolution of the forests around Lake Tahoe. It's only been the past century or so that man has altered that history of fire by putting out anything that flares-up. The result is a forest around Lake Tahoe that has too many trees, and tons and tons of forest litter. ((sot @ 9:07)) "A lot of these downed trees, limbs, branches, needles, etc. that keep accumulating every year as the trees shed all this extra debris. What we haven't seen due to fire suppression is any mechanism to get rid of this forest litter, so what we're trying to do is mimic this fire regime." ((track 3)) But doing that in a safe way can be tricky. That?s why pre-treating by thinning trees and removing extra debris is so important. You can just imagine what starting a prescribed burn in an area like this would do - the trees here are so thick and there is so much extra wood to burn?the results would be disastrous. In contrast, prescribed burning in an area like this that's been pre-treated can be easily controlled and safely done. With the Lake Tahoe Environmental Education coalition, I'm shelly purdy for kolo news channel 8. Anchor tag: The goal of prescribed burning is to reintroduce small, low-burning fires that were once very common in the Tahoe basin in an effort to avoid the out-of-control, crown-type fires that happen in a wildfire.

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