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Forest Service issues final decision on plan to restore Angora Fire area



SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit has finalized a plan to restore the Angora Fire area, including fuels reduction, wildlife habitat improvement, aquatic habitat and watershed restoration, road and trail system improvements and invasive weed control.

Under the plan, the Forest Service will remove standing dead and downed wood on up to 1,411 acres. The fuels reduction and healthy forest portion of the project also calls for thinning of some unhealthy live trees to improve the health of remaining overstory trees and some construction of new roads and landings to facilitate fuel removal and forest management. The Forest Service will use mechanical equipment on up to 964 acres on slopes less than 30 percent. A change to the final plan is that, for safety reasons due to deterioration of the white fir slated for removal, the Forest Service has decided not to use aerial logging on 447 acres where the slopes are greater than 30 percent, and instead will use hand crews to do the work.

Public comment emphasized the importance of burned forest as wildlife habitat, and the Forest Service will leave 1,168 acres untreated to fulfill this need.  The agency also has incorporated areas with higher amounts of snags and downed wood into the untreated areas and adjusted fuels reduction prescriptions to maintain these components in areas where tree removal would occur. Aspen restoration and reforestation will also help to restore wildlife habitat.

In addition to restoring the wetland around Seneca Pond, the Forest Service will reconstruct 1,200 feet of Angora Creek Channel through the meadow above Lake Tahoe Boulevard , and strategically place large woody debris within a two-mile segment of the creek and its tributaries to improve aquatic habitat. The agency will also remove live conifers that are encroaching on Gardner Mountain Meadow, fill in the incised channel and install structures to maintain the new channel elevation and plant riparian shrubs and sod to stabilize exposed soil.

The plan also includes construction of some new roads and trails, decommissioning and restoration of roads and trails, and improved access and wayfinding, as well as upgrades to stream crossings and other erosion control measures. The roads and trails will provide for continued high-quality recreational access, as well as forest management access, while bringing roads and trails up to standards that will reduce erosion and improve water quality.

Under separate decisions, reforesting with native tree species has already occurred on nearly 700 acres over the past two planting seasons, and an additional 295 acres could be planted in the next few years.

The Forest Service anticipates beginning dead tree removal and live tree thinning this fall. Projects will continue for the several years, most likely through 2014. For more information, including a copy of the decision notice for the Angora Restoration Project, visit the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit website at http://fs.usda.gov/goto/ltbmu/AngoraRestoration or contact the Forest Supervisor’s office at (530) 543-2600.

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