Lake Tahoe fire preparedness: Agency allows for tree removal in Angora area | SierraSun.com

Lake Tahoe fire preparedness: Agency allows for tree removal in Angora area

Sierra Sun News Service

A decision that allows for the removal of trees that pose a hazard to human safety or property along roads and trails in the Angora area was signed by Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Forest Supervisor Terri Marceron, the agency announced today.

“The Angora roads and trails are a popular area for walking, running and mountain biking,” said Marceron in a press statement. “This project takes a conservative approach to hazard tree removal while increasing the safety of those using public lands.”

The project involves removing hazard trees that are within striking distance of roads and trail, which is considered to be one and a half times the height of a tree due to the potential for airborne limbs and the domino effect of trees striking one another, according to the Forest Service

The project area encompasses about 256 acres of highly used roads and trails within the 3,100 acre Angora Fire area. One hundred sixty seven acres will be treated through a combination of mechanical removal and hand felling of dead or dying trees, and the remaining 89 acres will be treated through hand felling or monitoring tree mortality for future removal.

No widening of roads or trails will result from this project. In fact, some roads that are not part of the National Forest Service maintenance system will be decommissioned after the project is complete.

Based on an initial sample survey of the area last summer, approximately 76 trees per acre would be considered for removal as hazards, with 23 per acre between 16 inches and 30 inches in diameter and 1.5 per acre greater than 30 inches in diameter.

The marking guidelines for this project differ from those used in removing hazard trees for urban lots in fall 2007. Trees will be marked if they have zero green foliage remaining and are tall enough to reach a road or trails. Trees with green foliage may be marked if they have fire damage in combination with a severe structural defect, such as decay, insect infestation, significant lean or a compromised root system. If a tree would not have been cut prior to the fire due to the defect, and the fire did not

severely damage the tree, the tree will not be cut.

To address concerns raised about felling of large trees during the removal of hazard trees on urban lots, Forest Service staff will document the reasons for marking for all trees greater than 30″ in diameter. The project forester or silviculturist will also recertify these trees as meeting the marking guidelines prior to their removal.

The Forest Service will host a public field trip to one of the units after crews have marked trees for removal, which will provide an opportunity for the community to hear Forest Service experts explain why particular trees have been marked.

The date for the field trip will depend on conditions in the area, but the Forest Service will announce it well ahead of time through local media and the LTBMU web site, http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/ltbmu/.

Some felled trees will be left in place to provide habitat for wildlife. The project includes extensive measures to protect water quality, particularly in stream environment zones, as well as sensitive wildlife.

Depending on conditions in the project area, hazard tree and boundary marking could begin in spring 2008, with mechanical removal occurring in the summer and fall. The decision memo for this project, including the marking guidelines, is available at http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/ltbmu/.