The early storm event that began on January 7 with over 5 inches of rain in some regions of the Lake Tahoe Basin before turning to snow, delivered a massive amount of runoff to the Lake in a short period of time. During this storm event the Tahoe RCD Stormwater Monitoring Program measured the highest flows ever recorded at all eight monitoring locations since monitoring began in 2013. Our Tahoe Valley site, located off Tahoe Keys Blvd, measured 1.5 million cubic feet of flow, nearly 90% of the flow that was observed throughout the whole 2016 water year!
The Tahoe RCD monitors urban stormwater runoff around the Lake Tahoe Basin, providing the science that helps guide stormwater managers in environmental improvement project design and informs them if projects and management strategies have been successful in reducing pollutant loading to Lake Tahoe. Each stormwater sample is analyzed for fine sediment particles (FSP), nitrogen, and phosphorus to estimate nutrient and sediment loading from urban stormwater runoff. This last storm produced over 18 million gallons of runoff just from the sites we monitor alone. All data collected throughout a “water year”, October to September, is compiled into an annual monitoring report, given to stormwater managers and posted on the Tahoe RCD website. With successful implementation of environmental improvement projects that promote infiltration of runoff before it gets discharged to the lake, we have had the pleasure of retiring two of our urban stormwater monitoring sites as we saw significant reductions in pollutant loading from these locations.
The Stormwater Monitoring Program is continuously looking for ways to improve stormwater monitoring efforts. New for the 2017 monitoring season, the majority of our sites were outfitted with remote monitoring equipment, allowing us to monitor these sites with smartphones. The new remotely accessible equipment effectively allows our team to view what is happening at our monitoring sites in real time, and determine the best way to manage each individual site during storm events. Our scientific monitoring team is deployed in the most inclement of weather, because good science doesn’t take a break. The severity of this recent storm brought downed trees, dangerous road conditions, and a wealth of water. However, with these remote monitoring systems in place, our team was able to monitor all of our sites without making extensive trips into the field from the safety and comfort of our homes. This new remote technology allows for more reliable data management and easier data reporting.
The Landscape Conservation Program is seeking input from past participants of the program in order to continue to serve the community with high quality services into the future.
If you have received services through the the Landscape Conservation Program in the past, we please ask that you take 5 minutes of your time to fill out the online survey at the link below.
Your feedback is highly valued and is integral to the continued development of the program. We thank all that participated this summer for for another great field season.
Lake Tahoe, CA
In 2010, the Tahoe Resource Conservation District (Tahoe RCD), in collaboration with the Lake Tahoe Aquatic Invasive Species Program, began treatment of approximately six acres of aquatic invasive plants in the nearshore by Vikingsholm in the iconic Emerald Bay. The control methods included bottom barriers, which kill plants by eliminating light, and diver-assisted suction removal, which physically removes plants and roots. After four years of comprehensive treatment, Emerald Bay remains free of aquatic invasive plants.
Using this integrated approach, other locations around the Lake Tahoe Basin are being addressed. An Implementation Plan for the Control of Aquatic Invasive Species within Lake Tahoe developed by University of Nevada Reno in 2015 is guiding the way. The Implementation Plan uses an ecological and scientifically-based framework to determine site prioritization, which calls for controlling satellite populations in an effort to achieve containment. In 2016 Tahoe RCD treated 4.5 acres at Lakeside Marina and Beach, Crystal Shores marinas, Fleur du Lac’s outer harbor and in the Truckee River. This winter a new infestation at the Tahoe Vista boat launch will be tackled. Treatment of Eurasian watermilfoil is important for water quality because the invasive plant raises pH, decreases oxygen, and increases water temperature, all of which alter the ecosystem and negatively impact recreation and public safety.
“From our efforts in Emerald Bay, we know that invasive plant populations can be reduced, and with continued treatments, we will be able to better manage populations around the lake in the future,” said Tahoe RCD District Manager Kim Boyd.
Tahoe RCD anticipates the continuation of aquatic plant control efforts in Lake Tahoe and the Truckee River for years to come. While bottom barriers and diver-assisted suction removal have proven to be successful, there is a need to identify other techniques that could help us get ahead of the battle, particularly with persistent plant species such as curlyleaf pondweed. The potential to use ultra-violet light will increase the effective techniques available to Tahoe RCD especially in low water years and in tight spaces within marinas. Ultra-violet light has proven in lab studies and small field tests to damage the DNA and cellular structure of aquatic plants causing it to die back. Tahoe RCD will continue to work with partners this winter to finalize environmental documentation and permitting so UV light can be tested in Lake Tahoe in 2017.
“We are excited about working with our partners to explore new technology that can be added to the toolbox,” said Boyd, “A project using UV light to reduce aquatic plant infestations is being developed and is expected to launch in spring 2017.”
Funding for these projects has been provided by the Truckee River Fund, the Tahoe Fund, the Rotary Club of Tahoe City, California Tahoe Conservancy, and Nevada Division of State Lands.
Five Ways to Keep Fire on the Agenda – by Dr. Elwood Miller, Coordinator for the Nevada Network of Fire Adapted Communities
A Fire Adapted Community is one where the people have totally prepared themselves and the place they call home for surviving the inevitable presence of wildfire. To achieve this state of preparation, people need to change the way they think about their vulnerability as well as that of their house and the landscape where they live. They need to include the presence of fire as part of the community culture. Changing the culture of a community requires exposure to information that presents an alternate way of thinking about and picturing the surroundings and the structure, as well as personal behavior. Providing this information is not a “one and done” event but rather a well-planned communication scheme that involves routine and frequent delivery of the message. It means putting fire on the agenda; every agenda available.
In the fall of 2014 twenty seven successful community leaders were interviewed to learn from their experience and identify the methods they employed to keep fire on the agenda in their community. The top five approaches used to change the culture of their community are listed below in rank order of importance:
- Defensible space inspections of the house and landscape. This was consistently reported as the most effective educational tool available.
- Distribution of high quality, professionally prepared material such as that available from the Living With Fire Program and the local fire department. Having this material available at all times and at all community gatherings was an important component of keeping fire on the agenda.
- Personal contact through door-to-door campaigns. No means of communication is more important or effective than personal contact and face-to-face conversation.
- Presentations by respected fire professionals. Taking advantage of every available opportunity to have fire service professionals speak directly to members of the community brings credibility to the fire message. Their involvement also builds trust and creates a strong partnership that reinforces the shift in the community’s culture and enhances efforts to be prepared. Opportunities for presentations may be readily available or may have to be planned as neighborhood get-togethers.
- Routine and frequent distribution of notices, reminders, personal letters, news articles, personal stories, newsletters, and photographs. While all of this takes time and commitment, it is an effective way to keep people reminded that fire is a part of the culture and preparation for its occurrence is critical for the survival of the entire community. The utilization of social media can be very effective in keeping the message alive.
Whether you use one or all of these methods, the most important first step in adapting a community for fire is to create a fire culture. Using these methods will put fire on the agenda and greatly advance the mission of survival.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) today announced the award of up to $4,000,000 in Proposition 1 funds to the Tahoe Resource Conservation District (Tahoe RCD) to partner with the California Tahoe Conservancy and the Tahoe Fund to seek acquisition of the Johnson Meadows Property located in South Lake Tahoe. The approximately 209-acre property is the largest privately owned meadow in the Lake Tahoe Basin and the last large private property holding in the lower nine miles of the Upper Truckee River (UTR).
The funding from DFW combines with $4,234,000 awarded to the Tahoe RCD by the California Tahoe Conservancy in March 2016. The Tahoe Fund is also a funding partner and will be seeking to raise an additional $100,000 to help secure the entire $8,315,000 necessary to acquire the Property.
“If completed, the acquisition of the Johnson Meadow Property will be one of the most important public land purchases in the last decade in the Lake Tahoe Basin,” said Kim Boyd, District Manager at the Tahoe RCD. “The Property would connect over 1,000 acres of UTR floodplain in near continuous public ownership within the UTR’s lower nine miles.”
Acquisition of the Property would preserve wildlife habitat and open space, create public access to the UTR, and prevent additional environmental degradation from grazing. Additionally, acquisition of the property could lead to potential future restoration opportunities such as floodplain enhancement, sediment filtration improvement, and wet meadow habitat enrichment.
“This potential acquisition places virtually the entire river corridor in public ownership,” said California Tahoe Conservancy Executive Director Patrick Wright, who noted that the Conservancy, the U.S. Forest Service, the City of South Lake Tahoe, and California State Parks have all been working to restore various stretches of the river, the largest watershed in the Lake Tahoe Basin and the highest contributor of fine sediment that impacts the lake’s clarity. The Tahoe RCD hopes to complete negotiations with the land owners to enable the acquisition by the end of 2017.
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