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.

Prescribed BurnForest Fuels and Vegetation Management

Clearcutting during the Comstock era, followed by decades of fire suppression, caused the condition of Tahoe forests to become denser and less resistant to severe wildfire. Development of homes and communities has created a large wildland urban interface that is vulnerable to wildfire. That vulnerability was recently demonstrated by the Angora wildfire in 2007, which was economically the most destructive fire to occur in the Tahoe basin to date. Forest treatments to reduce wildfire hazards, including prescribed burning, are being planned and implemented throughout the Basin. Research is examining the effects of both wildfires and fuel treatments (including, understory burns, pile burning, thinning, and mastication) on forest health, wildlife, water quality, air quality, and other values. Vegetation management research is considering not only wildfire and fuel treatments, but also diseases, insects, and climate change.

Publication available for download:

Effects of Fuel Management in the Tahoe Basin: A Scientific Literature Review, November 29, 2009 [pdf 3MB]
A project of the USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station and the Tahoe Science Consortium

Efforts to manage vegetation and reduce fuel loads need to consider the tradeoffs between reducing the risk of severe wildfire, protecting and restoring ecological values, and wisely using economic resources.  To evaluate these tradeoffs, the Pacific Southwest Research Station commissioned literature reviews on the effects of fuels treatments in the Tahoe basin on air quality, water quality, soils, vegetation, and wildlife.  The resulting papers and an associated on-line searchable database of publications address previous calls to make scientific information more available to guide decisions.


  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction to the Effects of Fuels Management in the Tahoe Basin
  • Vegetation Response to Fuels Management in the Lake Tahoe Basin
  • Effects of Fuels Management on Future Wildfires in the Lake Tahoe Basin
  • Soil and Water Quality Response to Fuels Management in the Lake Tahoe Basin
  • Effects of Wild and Prescribed Fires on Lake Tahoe Air Quality
  • Wildlife Habitat and Community Responses to Fuels Management in the Lake Tahoe Basin
  • Appendix A: Current Tahoe Basin Experimental and Modeling Studies of Fuel Treatment Effects
Research Projects