In collaboration with the US Forest Service and other funding partners, Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA) has entered into a two-year, $500,000 commitment with the Tahoe National Forest and National Forest Foundation to help fund the “Ladybug Forest Health and Fuels Reduction Project,” an initiative that is expected to be completed in 2025.  TMWA’s support is part of a broader network of contributions from the US Forest Service (USFS), California Wildlife Conservation Board, The Nature Conservancy, and others. The overall project cost is estimated to be $3,800,000 and will be implemented by the National Forest Foundation through an existing partnership with the USFS.

Ladybug Forest Health and Fuels Reduction Project area map

“TMWA’s investment in the Ladybug project will improve 2,400 acres of National Forest System lands. This is a historic investment and indicative of the need for new partnerships to counter the threat of catastrophic fires,” said Jonathan Cook-Fisher, Truckee District Ranger. 

Wildfires can introduce contaminants into the ecosystem and ultimately the water supply when associated ash and eroded soil enters rivers, lakes and reservoirs. This can cause acute water quality challenges and interrupt water treatment processing downstream. “Improving forest health across the middle Truckee River watershed is an essential part of providing clean, safe drinking water to the citizens of California and Nevada,” says Rachel Hutchinson, Acting Sierraville District Ranger.

“This project offers TMWA a tangible way to help protect water quality and storage reliability on the Truckee River system,” said John Enloe, TMWA Director of National Resources. “Wildfire poses a real threat to our drought reserves, and we are continuing to explore more collaborations like this to help us be proactive in addressing the risk for our community.”

Approved in 2020, the Ladybug Forest Health and Fuels Reduction Project includes mechanical thinning of commercial and non-commercial timber, mastication and prescribed fire. The project area consists of an overcrowded forest, impacted by historic Comstock era logging and fire suppression. In addition, recent drought conditions have contributed to increased tree mortality, particularly from insects and disease. Work commenced in 2021 and is expected to continue through 2025.

More about the Ladybug Forest Health and Fuels Reduction Project can be found online by visiting https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=55750