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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Synthesis of spatially-explicit sustainability indicators for the Tahoe Basin

Proposal [pdf]

Lead Researchers:

David Saah, Spatial Informatics Group, LLC
Chad Praul, Environmental Incentives, LLC


Over the past 15 years, more than $1.1 billion dollars have been spent to restore the environment and manage growth in the Lake Tahoe Basin (Tahoe Regional Planning Agency [TRPA] 2010). Lacking a synthesizing framework, it is currently difficult to consistently and comprehensively answer questions about the effects of sustainability strategies, policy initiatives and restoration projects in the Tahoe region. Many spatially-explicit data sets exist, but they have not been synthesized for the sake of sustainability reporting. These datasets provide an unprecedented foundation for an integrated analysis designed to answer the question: Have environmental restoration treatments and managed development delivered benefits for people living in, working in, and visiting the Lake Tahoe Basin? To answer this question, this research project will develop a spatially-explicit, landscape-scale sustainability framework for analyzing redevelopment and restoration scenarios thus allowing Tahoe Basin resource managers to better understand the long-term impacts of their efforts. Anticipated outcomes of this research include (1) a simple data viewer that allows non-technical users access to all datasets integrated into the framework, (2) a geographic summary that provides findings about environmental, social and economic bottom lines, and (3) a description of estimated outcomes for scenarios of several redevelopment locations or policy changes.

Relation to Other Research Including SNPLMA Science Projects

This study makes use of previous investments in LiDAR, multi-spectral and other forms of spatial data to answer key questions about how redevelopment and restoration strategies affect Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) Thresholds and desired conditions. The effort will increase the value of individual data sets by relating them, synthesizing indices of aggregated value and increasing access to less-technical users. As outlined in the proposal, this research will be based upon the extensive previous work from the Monitoring & Evaluation Program, LiDAR and other remote sensed products, Threshold Evaluations, a California Strategic Growth Council Grant, Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project and US Census research. In addition to creating an informed and objective process for evaluating the triple bottom line of redevelopment and restoration projects, these research products will provide the technical evaluation framework necessary to ensure indicator data is analyzed and reported in a standardized manner to inform critical Tahoe Basin programs such as the Lake Tahoe Environmental Improvement Program, remotely-sensed data sets and derivative products, TRPA Threshold Evaluations, Monitoring & Evaluation Program, the Lake Tahoe Total Daily Maximum Load, and the TRPA Erosion Control Program. This study will also build upon research efforts funded in SNPLMA Round 11: "Mapping hard and soft impervious cover in the Lake Tahoe Basin using LiDAR and multispectral images: a pilot study of the Lake Tahoe Land Cover and Disturbance Monitoring Plan," "Assessment of the fire hazard/risk in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI) and SEZs," and "Development of status and trend indicators for stream condition and other resources."

Expected date of final products:

December 2013

Last Modified: Mar 28, 2013 02:52:08 PM