Tahoe forest supervisor issues dam decision for Incline Lake | SierraSun.com

Tahoe forest supervisor issues dam decision for Incline Lake

Staff report

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The U.S. Forest Service plans to remove the dam at the site of the former Incline Lake.

“Removing the dam will allow us to address public safety concerns, protect water quality and improve aquatic and wetland habitat, while continuing to provide recreational opportunities, such as fishing in streams and enhanced wildlife viewing,” Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Forest Supervisor Nancy Gibson said Wednesday.

After buying the 777-acre property, USFS officials determined the lake’s “high-hazard” dam and spillway do not meet federal, state or local standards due to development downstream along Third Creek.

The sellers drained Incline Lake prior to USFS completing its purchase in 2009, and it has not been allowed to refill.

Aside from recontouring the 30-acre project area, the parcel’s minor dam would become a low-water crossing.

“While rebuilding a smaller dam could be done in a way that provides some assurance for downstream safety … risks will increase as the structure ages, and there is no assurance that an extreme weather or geologic event won’t cause a dam failure,“ Gibson said.

The long-term goal is to restore the groundwater-dependent ecosystem within the area disturbed by the dam, which over 15-20 years would become a system of small- to medium-sized ponds, fens and marsh.

A 45-day comment period begins, in which residents may file objections to Gibson’s decision. Pacific Southwest Regional Forester Randy Moore would review any appeals.

For more information, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/ltbmu/InclineDam/.