USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station


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

(510) 559-6300

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.

Restoration and fuel treatment of Lake Tahoe's riparian forests

Old-growth forestsAlthough fuels treatments are being widely implemented in many western forests, riparian forests are rarely treated. When inevitable wildfires burn these corridors, they are likely to be high-severity crown fires. This study determined the Tahoe basin's historical riparian forest fire regime and stand conditions, and used modeling software to provide specific fuel guidelines for riparian forests while giving managers flexibility in meeting these objectives.

Final Products:

Lead Researchers:    Malcolm North, USFS Pacific Southwest Research Station


  1. Determine the presuppression fire-return interval, fire intensity, and historical stand structure and composition of riparian forests in white fir, mixed-conifer and Jeffrey pine forests of the Tahoe Basin.
  2. Using reconstruction information and Fuels Management Analyst software, work with managers to develop targets for surface and ladder fuels by size class for different riparian forests.

Sites:    Thirty-six stands throughout basin, focusing on old, non-urban stands in riparian areas; sampled using nested circular plots for fuel and tree measurements

Timeframe:    October 2007 through September 2010 (3 years)

Expected date of final products: June 2011.
Progress Report available for download.

Publications available:


  1. An agency workshop in 2008, which will include LTBMU fire managers, foresters, and wildlife biologists, describing results and use of the modeling software.
  2. Collaboration with agency managers will be an essential part of this project from the beginning and serve to educate both the scientist and managers. This will be particularly important for interpreting Fuels Management Analyst (FMA) models and developing practical fuel treatments within regulatory constraints.
  3. Public outreach: information will be presented at meetings to the general public, university (UC Davis, California State University-Sacramento, University of Nevada Reno), and management organizations (USFS-LTBMU).
  4. Publications - Scientific information will be presented in two peer-reviewed publications and presentations of papers at scientific symposia and meetings.
Last Modified: Mar 28, 2013 02:52:07 PM