USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station


Pacific Southwest Research Station
800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011

(510) 559-6300

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Development and Validation of the Tahoe Project Sediment Model

Proposal [pdf]

Lead Researchers:

William Elliot, USDA FS Rocky Mountain Research Station, Erin Brooks, Biological and Agricultural Engineering, University of Idaho, Drea Traeumer, Em Hydrology, LLC


Now, more than ever, there is a great need for scientifically defensible upland decision support tools in the Lake Tahoe basin. The recognition of the excess build-up of forest fuels and the continued struggle with maintaining or improving clarity in the lake has put enormous pressure on decision-makers in the basin.

Managers are faced with stiff time constraints to meet TMDL, (Total Maximum Daily Load), requirements while thinning forests to reduce the risk or intensity of wildfire in the basin. The proposed research will develop an upland decision support tool to assist managers in the selection and assessment of site-specific management options to reduce forest fuel loads and to evaluate effectiveness of sediment mitigation practices. The proposed online Tahoe Pollutant Source Model (TPSM) will be based fundamentally on the WEPP, (Water Erosion Prediction Process), model and will be parameterized using existing Tahoe experimental databases. TPSM will be a flexible web interface tool which will assess the effects of site specific management practices on sediment transport and delivery from a treated hillslope to a channel. One of the primary focuses will be on developing step by step training materials that clearly describe how to apply the tool to many of the common fuel management and sediment management practices employed by decision-makers in the basin. The web interface will be developed such that new information can be incorporated into the tool as it becomes available from on-going research in or near the basin. TPSM will have an immediate impact in the basin as it provides the scientifically defensible predictions that watershed managers in the basin need.

Relation to Other SNPLMA Projects

The project will utilize the following previous and current SNPLMA research projects and monitoring data to the greatest extent possible to develop, parameterize, and validate the TPSM online decision support system as expeditiously and cost-effectively as possible: Round 7 and 8 SNPLMA science projects "Assessing the Sources and Transport of Fine Sediment in Response to Management Practices in the Tahoe Basin using the WEPP model"; "Improving Road Erosion Modeling for the Lake Tahoe Basin and Evaluating BMP Strategies for Fine Sediment Reduction at Watershed Scales", and  "Nutrient and Sediment Loading Predictions for Prescribed Fire Using Optimized WEPP Model".

Expected date of final products:

June 2012

Last Modified: Mar 28, 2013 02:52:07 PM