More than 290 types of animals and more than 1,000 plant species make up the Lake Tahoe forest and wildlife in the Tahoe Basin. Currently, 305 species of California wildlife are listed on the official endangered species list. This includes Tahoe residents such as the Sierra Red Fox, Lahontan Cutthroat Trout and the Mountain Beaver. During the height of the Comstock Lode in Virginia City, from 1860 to 1890, nearly all of the Basin’s trees were logged for mining timber. The effects of this devastating period can still be seen throughout the Basin today in areas of decreased watershed and devastated habitat.
The goals of The Forest Services’ Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, the California Tahoe Conservancy, the League to Save Lake Tahoe and others include regulating development in the Basin, restoring habitats, managing vegetation and reducing exposure to hazardous fuels. Prescribed fires are used frequently in the Basin to prevent forest fires, promote the growth of plant species, and rebuild specific rare habitats. Since 1984, the California Tahoe Conservancy has restored more than 1,340 acres of critical habitat in the Lake Tahoe Basin.