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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A collaborative definition, classification refinement, and mapping of the stream environment zones in the Lake Tahoe Basin

Proposal [pdf]

Lead Researchers:

David Saah, Jason Moghaddas, and Jarlath O'Neil-Dunne, Spatial Informatics Group, LLC
Josh Collins, San Francisco Estuary Institute


To appropriately identify, evaluate, protect, and manage riparian and aquatic resources in the Lake Tahoe Basin requires a collaborative approach involving multiple agencies, scientists, and other stakeholders. These aquatic features, and their associated riparian areas, are managed as stream environment zones (SEZs), as described in the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) Code of Ordinances. A number of efforts are currently underway to develop a comprehensive strategy for SEZ management. Recently, the TRPA developed an SEZ Roadmap to review and update the SEZ policies and program in the Lake Tahoe Basin. In response to the sub-theme need for scientifically-based SEZ maps and associated documentation, our project will provide the following: 1) recommended revisions to California Aquatic Resource Inventory (CARI) for inclusion of SEZs, 2) production of the "TARI" (Tahoe Aquatic Resource Inventory), 3) an updated classification system used to identify and map SEZs for mapping and field verification, 4) scientifically-defensible documentation of field indicators of SEZ that supports an SEZ delineation approach, 5) data layers and associated maps that depict the extent of the various SEZ types across the Lake Tahoe Basin, including LiDAR-based high-resolution SEZ maps and associated vegetation structure modeling input data that can be utilized for analysis across multiple disciplines; these products will be fully documented according to Federal Geographic Data Committee metadata standards and, to the extent that funds allow, they will be made available on-line through Wetland Tracker for public distribution once finalized and approved, and 6) a peer reviewed report in the form of a General Technical Report documenting the process, methods, and results of this study.

Relation to Other Research Including SNPLMA Science Projects

This research builds directly upon previous and concurrent efforts to evaluate SEZ policies and programs in the Lake Tahoe Basin. This project will be integrated with the ongoing SEZ Roadmap effort to establish a classification system of different SEZ types based on soils, hydro-geomorphology and vegetation that is protective of identified SEZ desired functions. The project team will work closely with the Science and Management Integration Team SEZ Technical Working Group and the Tahoe Wetland and Riparian Area Monitoring Plan (WRAMP) team to develop the classification system based on revised SEZ definition and delineation criteria. The project team will also collaborate with the Tahoe WRAMP team to apply the CARI protocols to the Lake Tahoe Basin to produce the Tahoe Aquatic Resource Inventory (TARI). Presently, these mapping protocols are being tested in two pilot watersheds in the Lake Tahoe Basin. These research efforts will be supported with the most recent research and resource data available. For example, the SNPLMA-funded 2010 acquisition of LiDAR and WorldView-2 multispectral imagery data will be used to map riparian vegetation and terrain features. Following the revised SEZ classification scheme, these data and the recent (2007) Lake Tahoe Basin soil survey will be used to map SEZ locations in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Where appropriate, information will be gleaned from previous monitoring efforts within SEZ areas. For example, monitoring information from the Heavenly Valley Creek SEZ Demonstration Project and Round Hill Fuels Reduction Project (USDA 2011), both on public lands, and the Celio Ranch Fuels Reduction Project on private lands may provide useful data related to SEZ characteristics and tolerances. These data currently inform SEZ management decisions (for example, SEZ treatments in the South Shore Fuel Reduction and Healthy Forest Restoration Project are based on findings from the Heavenly Creek monitoring). In addition, this study will leverage efforts from projects monitoring SEZ restoration and improvements funded in SNPLMA Round 7, "Methodology to predict total and fine sediment load reductions as a result of channel restoration in Lake Tahoe streams," Round 9, "Quantification and characterization of Trout Creek restoration effectiveness," and Round 11, "Tools to quantify urban stormwater load reduction from SEZ restoration actions."

Expected date of final products:

March 2015

Last Modified: Nov 12, 2014 03:47:17 PM