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.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
The best advice we can offer for maintaining a healthy forest is to respect it, and to respect the regulations set forth by the local and national forest services. In addition to those above, here are a few more noteworthy reminders.
- Follow “pack it in, pack it out” and Leave No Trace standards wherever you go.
- Hike only on existing trails.
- Respect animal wildlife and do not hunt or fish without a permit.
- Do not cut down trees or other plant life without a permit.
- Camp only in designated camping spots.
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Dispose of waste properly
- Leave what you find
- Minimize campfire impacts
- Respect wildlife
- Be considerate of other visitors
- Do not light fires outside of prescribed fire areas and be sure to follow all fire safety regulations.