TRUCKEE, Calif. — Forestry work is currently underway on the 1,462-acre Waddle Ranch Preserve located in Martis Valley just north of Highway 267.
Waddle Ranch, acquired by the Truckee Tahoe Airport District, Truckee Donner Land Trust, and the Trust for Public Land in 2007, is the most ecologically diverse property in Martis Valley and is currently managed by the Truckee Tahoe Airport District.
Since 2008, the Truckee Tahoe Airport District and the Truckee Donner Land Trust have worked to improve forest health and enhance recreation activities on the property. To date, nearly 700 acres have been treated with a combination of mechanical mastication, tree trimming, erosion control, tree planting, and trail construction.
“We’re removing diseased trees, ladder fuels, and white firs,” said Ray Godon, operator, Volcano Creek Enterprises who was out working last month.
The forestry work aims to restore Waddle Ranch to what it was prior to the Comstock Era of the 1850s when the property was logged. Specifically, this means spacing out the forest to its natural state, reducing the threat of catastrophic wildfire (which includes removing white firs), providing more nutrients to trees, and bringing the water table up.
“Our goal with the forestry work on Waddle Ranch is to transform the forest back to a pre-settlement condition. When future generations go out there, they will see the original, healthy way forests used to be,” said Hardy Bullock, community affairs, Truckee Tahoe Airport District.
In addition to fuels reduction work, 750 sugar pines (Pinus lambertiana) were planted on a previously forested area of Waddle Ranch last month. Organized by the Sugar Pine Foundation as part of the 18th Annual Truckee River Day, over 45 cub scouts, boy scouts, kids, and community members gathered to plant sugar pines on the property.
“It’s good for the Earth because they help us breathe,” said 8 year-old Laurel Anderson of Truckee, one of the tree planters on Sunday.
Sugar pines (Pinus lambertiana), which once accounted for 25 percent of Tahoe’s forests, now make up less than 5 percent of them. They are the world’s largest species of pine and have been heavily logged for furniture and siding uses. Sugar pines are also threatened by a non-native invasive fungus called white pine blister rust.
The sugar pines planted on Sunday, however, are resistant to blister rust due to the Sugar Pine Foundation’s strategy of only planting fungus resistant saplings. The goal is to establish cross pollination, bringing the entire native stand into a state of healthy resistance over time.