Thursday, September 11, 2008

USFS seeks comments on aspens

South Lake Tahoe, Calif. -- The U.S. Forest Service is seeking public
comment on a proposal to restore aspen stands in the Lake Tahoe Basin.
The Aspen Community Restoration Project would restore approximately
1,115 acres of aspen stands over the next ten years. Aspen stands
provide important habitat for many plant and animal species, yet they
comprise only two percent of the landscape on the LTBMU.

The project would target aspen stands that are at moderate or higher
risk of loss and are not included in another project. Fire suppression
efforts have increased fuel loading in aspen stands, which can lead to
increased burn severity and duration, resulting in the loss the aspen

Aspen stands are adapted to frequent, low-intensity, low-duration
wildfire. Once treated to desired conditions, aspen stands often act as
natural firebreaks. Conifer encroachment can suppress the water table
locally and accelerate invasion by other conifers, which prefer drier
conditions than aspen do. Restoring aspen stands to desired conditions
can help restore the local water table.

Treatments would focus on creating stands in which the upper canopy is
dominated by aspen, with less than 25 percent of the canopy comprised of
conifers. Treated stands would experience vigorous aspen regeneration.

The project would use several types of treatments to restore aspen
stands – including mechanical or hand thinning of conifers, removal of
aspen trees to promote root stimulation and stand regeneration, aspen
root separation and prescribed fire.

Aspen root separation consists of physically separating roots from the
nearest trees to stimulate aspen suckering, either mechanically or by
hand. Prescribed fire could be used as a primary or subsequent to
thinning treatments. Fire intensity would be light to moderate surface
fire and duration would be limited.

Much of the project would take place in stream environment zones, and
the proposed project contains numerous features designed to reduce any
short-term impacts to these areas. In the long-term, the project would
benefit these areas by restoring them to a more natural state.

The LTBMU expects to complete National Environmental Policy Act analysis
on the project by the end of the year and would begin treatments as
early as January 2009 using Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act
funding available for the project.

Complete project information is available on the LTBMU web site at or by calling project leader
Victor Lyon at (530) 543-2749. Comments on the project will be most
helpful if received by October 7, 2008.


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