Public Comment on LTBMU Caldor Hazard Tree Removal Project
The USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) is seeking public comments on a proposal to remove hazardous trees from the Caldor Fire area. This project would utilize heavy machinery to remove all fire damaged trees within 200 feet of trails, roads and facilities within the Caldor Fire scar. They intend to use heavy machinery to perform work on slopes below 50 percent in steepness (which is a majority of the project). Please find project details here as well as the directions to make comments by the March 14th deadline.
It is very important to have your opinion heard! While TAMBA overall agrees with the general scope and importance of the project, we do have some concerns about the project implementation and how it could impact trail infrastructure and public access during the project. Specifically, we would like for them to only do handwork along trail corridors to minimize impacts to the trail infrastructure and reduce environmental impacts within inventoried roadless areas. Our detailed comments and questions that we are submitting to the LTBMU can be found below.
TAMBA Comments for Basin Wide Trails Analysis Project
The Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association (TAMBA) wants to thank the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit for their efforts during the Caldor Fire and for helping protect our community as well as helping get the trails and lands reopened to the public in an efficient manner.
The Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association (TAMBA) is a volunteer-driven nonprofit organization that builds, maintains, and advocates for multi-use trails in Tahoe while providing education to all trail users and hosting fun community events. TAMBA works in partnership with land managers such as the U.S. Forest Service, Nevada State Parks, California State Parks, and the City of South Lake Tahoe. In addition, TAMBA helps maintain more than 100 miles of trail per year.
TAMBA has invested thousands of volunteer hours into many of the trails that were heavily impacted by the Caldor Fire that would fall under the scope of work for this project. Since the fire, TAMBA has cleared dozens of fallen trees, installed erosion control measures and helped rebuild the trail to make it safe for users.
Overall, TAMBA supports the general scope of the project and wants to see the impacted areas restored to help mitigate erosion and future fuel loading. However, we have a few comments and areas of concern that are outlined in our comments below.
- TAMBA would like to request the LTBMU to limit tree removal efforts along trail corridors to handwork, rather than heavy machinery, to reduce possible impacts to trail infrastructure. While trail infrastructure is built to handle thousands of users each season, including OHV users in some areas, it is not capable of handling impacts of heavy machinery which could easily cause significant damage to retaining walls, trail armoring, signage and other erosion control structures. Additionally, a significant portion of the proposed work on trails occurs within Inventoried Roadless Areas, specifically along Mr. Toads Wild Ride, Cowboy Hat Trail and Warr Trail. These types of remote and unimpacted areas are not appropriate for heavy machinery usage. Finally, damage to trail infrastructure could pose risks to users after the tree removal is completed and would mean additional time and money to make repairs to the trails.
- There is no language in the scoping document about how trail infrastructure like bridges, signs, retaining walls, armoring will be protected from damage during the tree removal. TAMBA would like to suggest that LTBMU incorporate protocols for tree removal operations to protect the trail infrastructure from incurring any foreseeable damage.
- There is no language in the scoping document about how public access could be impacted during this project. TAMBA would like the LTBMU to consider the most efficient tree removal process to limit closures to public access. The trails in this area are incredibly popular and closures will force users onto nearby trails potentially creating trail user conflicts.
- TAMBA would like to recommend over-the-snow harvesting where possible (if using mechanized equipment) to help reduce impacts on the landscape and have work occur outside the busy trail use season. Oversnow mechanical work will reduce impacts to trails and minimize restrictions to public access.