This month, the Tahoe Network of Fire Adapted Communities would like to highlight the neighborhood of Whispering Pines in Incline Village, Nevada. Jacquie Chandler, the neighborhood leader, successfully organized a neighborhood block party that focused on fire safety inside and outside of the home on October 15, 2016. The neighborhood members gathered the day after the Emerald Fire to talk about the importance of fire safety. Strengthening the messages of the gathering, The North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District and Washoe County Roads were present to provide information regarding fire safety and strategies to keep roads accessible during for the facilitation of evacuation procedures. The fire district handed out smoke detectors, signed up homeowners for defensible space evaluations, and registered the neighborhood for Code Red, a notification system that facilitates communication amongst residents during an emergency. The Whispering Pines neighborhood has plans to maintain the Fire Adapted Community momentum by regularly gathering to discuss and plan actions to becoming more fire safe.
Check out the Sierra Sun article
written by Toree Warfield for more details about the event.
If you would like to become a leader, email Marybeth at the Tahoe RCD at mdonahoe@Tahoercd.org or call at 530.543.1501 ext 114. Together, we can make a difference in your community!
Protecting Our Playground
Wildfire is part of the natural ecosystem in the Sierras, whether we like it or not as residents. Fires have historically burned with low intensity and high return frequency throughout the Lake Tahoe Basin. In modern times however, large and intense mega fires are becoming more frequent. As a result, these fires can have catastrophic impacts on the ecosystem.
Lake Tahoe recently experienced one of these larger wildfire events. On October 14, 2016, the Emerald Fire lit up the night sky at 1:28 am with an eerie, bright, orange glow. The fire raged down the Cascade Ridge and jumped over highway 89, heading straight towards the Cascade properties neighborhood where over 500 structures were threatened.
Chris Anthony, Division Chief of Amador El Dorado Unit for CALFIRE, stated: "The Emerald Fire was a fast moving, wind driven fire that is a stark reminder of how devastating wildfire can be to the residents and resources of the Lake Tahoe Basin. Had it not been for the heroic efforts of the firefighters, and a welcome change in the weather, this fire would have caused much more damage."
Without the heavy rain that followed the ignition of the fire, firefighter efforts could have been drastically different and more catastrophic impacts could have been possible to the properties and homes in the area. Regardless, the impacts of the Emerald Fire are substantial; while fortunately no homes were destroyed or people were injured, the area did suffer environmental impacts. Forest stands were charred; portions of the area have barren landscape and will take decades to recover.
Recovery of the more intensely burned areas will require a far longer period of time, and this void in vegetation creates conditions favorable to invasive weeds such as cheat grass. The combination of the heavy rains and fire caused excessive runoff and soil erosion which overwhelmed stormwater infrastructure. An estimated 300 tons of sediment was removed off highway 89. This area will continue to experience higher amounts of runoff from stormwater, as well as increased sedimentation and soil erosion, due to the lack of vegetation to slow and infiltrate water from storm events.
Sections of the USFS property within the fire were treated to reduce hazardous fuels. These areas show a great difference in the fire behavior, when compared to those areas that had not been treated. As shown by the fire, fuels management activities result in less intense fire behavior and therefore less environmental impacts. Part of the area where the fire burned was thinned in 2011, followed by prescribed burning in April of 2016. The difference in impacts to the treated areas versus non-treated areas is very apparent. Where hazardous fuels had been removed, the fire behavior changed from an intense, high heat crown fire to a low burning understory ground fire which is easier to control by fire fighters. The ecosystem of these managed areas will most likely have a faster recovery rate. On the other hand, areas subjected to intense burning remain susceptible for a longer period of recovery.
Fuels reduction projects are one of the many components to protecting the Lake Tahoe Basin from devastating wildfire.
It is extremely important that those
living and recreating within the Basin adapt to the changing conditions by becoming knowledgeable and preparing themselves and their neighborhoods for the presence of fire. Check out this news article that shows the importance of the fuels reduction project around the Emerald fire.
The actions you take before a wildfire are the most important. Prepare for wildfire, protect our playground.
Learn what you can do to protect our playground
The Tahoe RCD and our partners would like to
for being a part of the Tahoe Network of Fire Adapted Communities Program! Thank you for your efforts to create a fire adapted culture within the Lake Tahoe Basin!
Together, our actions can make a difference and reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire!
The Tahoe Network of Fire Adapted Communities is growing!
Since launching the network in May, eleven neighborhood leaders have joined and are working in their communities.
We are continuing to look for motivated individuals to participate as a leader within their social group or neighborhood.
If you would like to volunteer or become a leader in the Tahoe Network of Fire Adapted Communities, email Marybeth at the Tahoe RCD at
or call at 530.543.1501 ext 114. Together, we can make a difference in your community!
Winter is the perfect time to create your evacuation plan
- Create an emergency supplies kit. - An easy to grab to-go bag with clothing, personal toiletries, flashlight, spare batteries, extra set of car/ house keys, extra pair of eyeglasses, a list of contact information, etc.
Make an evacuation route -
Draw out your home and plan exit strategies for the entire family, including your pets.
Practice an evacuation drill
- By practicing your evacuation route and meet up points, you are better prepared and will instinctively know where to go in the event of a wildfire or catastrophe.
Living With Fire has more detailed tips. Click
to see what they recommend!