USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station
Pacific Southwest
Research Station

800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011
(510) 883-8830
United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.

Research PartnershipsLake Tahoe Science Program

Lake Tahoe Research

Scientific research to improve the environment in the Lake Tahoe Basin

Forest in the foreground with Lake Tahoe and the mountains in the distance.
Lake Tahoe view from Mount Rose Highway scenic pullout, looking northwest toward Tahoe City, California. (Peter Goin)

The U.S. Forest Service plays an instrumental role in the management of federal lands in and around the Lake Tahoe Basin. Research conducted by the Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW) plays a key role in guiding Forest Service management practices to improve the health and use of these lands.

Scientific research plays a key role at Lake Tahoe in quantifying targets to meet environmental goals, identifying trends towards achieving the targets, and informing policy decisions. Scientists span a broad area of expertise, including forest ecology, fire ecology, wildlife biology, biological diversity, water science, soil science, urban forestry and social science.

PSW coordinates scientific research in the basin through the Tahoe Science Consortium (TSC), whose partners also include the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of California at Davis, the University of Nevada at Reno, and the Desert Research Institute (DRI).

Learn how our research helps care for the green around the blue!

Tahoe Science Projects supported by the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act

Cover photo of the Tahoe Science Consortium Science Synthesis Report.
Science Synthesis Report
Executive Summary
Full Report

The Tahoe Science Program was created through the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act (SNPLMA) to conduct science to inform efforts to restore Lake Tahoe and its watershed, as authorized in the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act. Beginning in 2006, the Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW) assumed responsibility for sponsoring science projects beginning with Round 7.

The PSW Station established a competitive grant award program with a rigorous peer review process coordinated by the Tahoe Science Consortium, a collection of universities and agencies with active research programs at Lake Tahoe. The PSW program coordinator and the Tahoe Science Consortium worked each year with the resource management agencies in the Tahoe Basin to identify research priorities and solicit proposals.

Specific research areas varied from year to year within the eight science themes listed below. These eight priority research issues spanned the research needs identified and prioritized by management agencies in the Tahoe Basin.

In 2016, the Tahoe Science Consortium Science Synthesis Report was presented to SNPLMA sponsors (U.S. Congress and federal agency partners), the science community, and the general public. The report offers an overview of the key findings from the research projects supported by the SNPLMA Science Program and illustrates their relevance to management actions in the Lake Tahoe Basin. The Science Synthesis Report distills hundreds of research projects, publications and reports from this program into succinct findings that provide relevant knowledge for resource managers in the basin.

Projects by round:

[or browse all projects]

Round 12:
Round 11:
Round 10:
Round 9:
Round 8:
Round 8:
Round 5 and 6:
Priority Research Issues and projects designed to address them

Air Quality Air pollutants pose threats to health of humans and forests at Lake Tahoe, as well as to the clarity of the lake itself. Research is underway to evaluate these impacts and develop appropriate treatments.

Climate Change New and expanding tools are needed to inform policymakers about how future climate change will specifically affect the Lake Tahoe basin and provide information that can lead to proactive policy alternatives.

Forest Fuels and Vegetation Management Forest treatments, including prescribed burning, are planned to reduce wildfire hazards. Research is underway to evaluate how both treatments and wildfires can affect values such as air quality, water quality, and wildlife habitat.

Habitat Improvement Research is helping to better understand the special management needs of species and ecological communities that are particularly rare or vulnerable in the Tahoe basin.

Lake Quality To "Keep Tahoe Blue" is a primary goal in the Tahoe basin. A specific objective is to reverse the long-term decline in open-water clarity. Lake quality is also threatened by the spread of attached algae (periphyton) and non-native organisms.

Stormwater Management Fine sediments, nutrients, and other pollutants, particularly from urban areas and roads, pose major threats to the clarity of Lake Tahoe. Research is helping to design best management practices (BMPs) to prevent these pollutants from entering downstream waterways.

Stream Restoration Research is helping to design projects to restore stream geomorphic and ecological functions, including retention of fine sediments and enhancement of habitat for plants and animals.

Science Integration The Tahoe Science Consortium conducts workshops and provides technical assistance to apply current research to challenges facing management agencies within the Tahoe Basin.

Science Themes

The Tahoe Science Consortium convened a panel of scientists along with representatives of management agencies who collaboratively generated annual lists of science themes based on research priorities.

Last Modified: Aug 29, 2016 09:47:53 AM