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.

Identifying spatially explicit reference conditions for forest landscapes in the Lake Tahoe Basin

Principal Investigators:
Alan Taylor, The Pennsylvania State University
Hugh Safford, USDA Forest Service-Region 5, Pacific Southwest Region
Carl Skinner, USDA Forest Service-Pacific Southwest Research Station

Proposal [pdf]

Final Report [pdf]

Additional Reports:
Taylor et al 2013 [pdf]

Please contact Dr. Alan Taylor with questions regarding the reports and additional data files associated with this project.

Project Summary

The overall goal of this project was to develop spatially-explicit reference conditions for pre-Comstock forest landscapes and associated fire regimes for the Lake Tahoe Basin that can be used by land managers in the ecosystem restoration planning and implementation process. An understanding of the spatial variability in pre-Comstock forest characteristics is essential for understanding if and how planned stand-level activities (mechanical fuel treatments, prescribed burning, etc.) scale up and contribute to restoration of functioning forest landscapes (i.e., wildlife habitat, forest health, hydrologic conditions, etc.).

A mismatch between the cumulative effects of stand level treatments in contemporary forests and spatial variability in pre-Comstock vegetation patterns may fail to achieve the goal of restoring fire resilient functioning landscapes. The specific objectives of this project were to:

  1. Identify the relationship between spatial variability in pre-Comstock forest structure (composition, density, basal area, size structure) and topographic variables in the lower and upper montane forest zones of the Lake Tahoe Basin
  2. Identify the relationships between spatial variability in fire regimes (fire return interval, season of burn) and topographic variables in the montane and upper montane zone
  3. Develop a spatially-explicit reconstruction that distributes and visually represents pre-Comstock forest structure, forest fuels, and fire regimes for lower and upper montane forests.