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South Lake Tahoe, Calif. September 17, 2020 – At its virtual meeting today, the California Tahoe Conservancy Board awarded $523,500 in grants to support programs and projects that will improve forest health and reduce the threat of wildfire to Lake Tahoe Basin (Basin) communities, and to accelerate adaptation to climate change.

“At a time when western states are tackling unprecedented wildfires from Mexico to Canada, it’s critically important that we act today to reduce the risk to the Basin communities and treasured landscapes,” said El Dorado Supervisor and Conservancy Board Chair Sue Novasel. “What’s more, healthy and resilient forests can adapt better to the effects of climate change.”

The Board today awarded a $75,000 grant to the USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station to fund analysis and strategic guidance that will help land managers better use prescribed fire in the Basin. Although wildfires in the west are becoming larger and more destructive, fire remains a natural ecosystem process that is necessary for maintaining forest health. Prescribed fire can be the best and least expensive tool for protecting communities by proactively reducing hazardous fuels and restoring forests.

The Board also awarded a $351,000 grant to the Lake Tahoe Community College District (LTCC) for a forest health training and job placement program. Public agencies that manage land in the Basin have had difficulty recruiting and retaining qualified forestry staff to thin and restore overly dense forests. By increasing the number of qualified forestry professionals, the LTCC program will accelerate large-scale restoration and wildfire protection for communities.

The Board also awarded a $97,500 grant to California State Parks to continue to thin dense forests at Ed Z’berg Sugar Pine Point State Park using hand thinning and understory burning treatments. State Parks has designed its project to reduce the potential for wildfire and improve forest health.

At the same meeting, the Board awarded an $80,000 grant to the Desert Research Institute to model how the Basin’s roughly 60 tributary watersheds will respond to the larger storms expected with climate change. Storm water engineers, land managers, environmental planners, and similar public agency specialists will be able to use the information to update their infrastructure and restoration designs, and better adapt to climate risks.

The Board also approved the acquisition of a half-acre property at 2130 Lake Tahoe Boulevard in the City of South Lake Tahoe. After the acquisition, the Conservancy will demolish the existing structure and stabilize the environmentally sensitive land, which floods regularly.