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Governor Gavin Newsom has signed into law a funding package that includes $36 million for the California Tahoe Conservancy (Conservancy) to restore forests and reduce wildfire risk at Lake Tahoe. The package includes an additional $5.25 million to help improve Tahoe’s resilience to climate change impacts.
These funds for the Lake Tahoe Basin (Basin) are part of a $15 billion climate package signed by Governor Newsom last week to combat the climate crisis, tackle catastrophic wildfires, and help build a resilient California of the future.
“It would be hard to overstate the importance of this funding for Tahoe,” said Conservancy Board Chair and El Dorado County Supervisor Sue Novasel. “The Caldor Fire, which still burns today, showed us up close the extraordinary threat from climate change impacts. These funds will help advance critical work by Tahoe partners in restoring our treasured forests and protecting our communities.”
The Caldor Fire has burned more than 220,000 acres to date, destroyed many homes just to the west of the Basin, and at one point caused more than 50,000 people to evacuate.
The $36 million will help the Conservancy and its partners in the Tahoe Fire and Fuel Team (TFFT) to more quickly implement the Lake Tahoe Basin Forest Action Plan. The Forest Action Plan―developed by the TFFT’s 21 federal, tribal, state, and local conservation, land management, and fire agencies―charts a path for collaboration across property boundaries to accelerate landscape restoration and community wildfire protection at Tahoe.
The Conservancy will invest the new funding on its own lands and in support of Tahoe partners for work that reduces hazardous fuels in the wildland-urban interface and advances landscape-scale forest restoration. The funds will also support work to help Tahoe forests recover from the Caldor Fire.
“CAL FIRE works hand in hand with the California Tahoe Conservancy in fuel reduction projects, and this funding will be hugely beneficial in expanding the scope and ability to continue this important work,” said Brian Newman, Assistant Chief for CAL FIRE’s Amador-Eldorado Unit. “The collaboration among all the agencies within the TFFT allows for a concerted unified approach to the overall goal of forest improvement and wildfire protection. We look forward to continuing this important work with the Conservancy and the TFFT.”
Since 2008, the partner agencies of the TFFT have treated 65,000 acres of forest in the wildland-urban interface. The TFFT has set a goal to treat approximately 14,000 additional acres in the wildland-urban interface by 2025.
The $5.25 million will fund work to improve the resilience of Tahoe’s communities and natural resources to climate change impacts. These funds can support the State’s goal to conserve 30 percent of lands and coastal waters by 2030, protect fish and wildlife habitat, and restore Conservancy lands and wetlands to increase resilience, support healthy ecosystems, and fight climate change by storing more carbon. Along with better and more equitable access to Lake Tahoe and the region’s natural resources, such investment can help protect Lake Tahoe and further the work of Tahoe partners as identified in the Tahoe Climate Adaptation Action Portfolio.