Preserving Water for the Fire Fight
Water purveyors around Lake Tahoe are reporting an alarming trend: residents leaving irrigation, garden hoses, and sprinklers on roofs actively running as they follow evacuation orders. Not only is this not helpful in protecting homes from wildfire, but it can be detrimental for firefighters who rely on a water supply with adequate water flow to fight fire in extremely dangerous conditions.
As a result, Lake Tahoe public utility districts and water purveyors are experiencing drawdowns in their water supply since evacuation warnings and orders went into effect. Many neighborhood water tanks are being drawn down and wells and water pump stations are operating at maximum capacity, even in evacuated areas that should be empty of residents. This misuse of water can leave water supplies dangerously low when firefighters need fast access to water from fire hydrants to protect homes.
Residents are also calling local fire districts to ask if they should spray down roofs and vegetation before evacuating. This is not effective, as the roof will dry very quickly, as will the vegetation, which doesn’t protect the home itself. Wide-scale activation of sprinklers and garden hoses dramatically reduces water pressure in the entire community. Firefighters apply water judiciously, where it makes a difference, and they need all the available water and water pressure during a fire. Evacuation preparedness efforts are better spent on removing combustible material away from homes.
Ember vulnerabilities cause nearly 90% of homes to burn in a wildfire, whereas the flame front or surface fires are responsible for only around 10% of homes lost to wildfire. Maintaining defensible space and having separation between flammable fuels, along with hardening homes to ember intrusion are the best preparations residents can take prior to evacuating homes.
Visit tahoelivingwithfire.com and follow @tahoelwf on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more wildfire preparedness and prevention information.
~ North Tahoe Fire Protection District press release
Forest Service Temporarily Closes All California National Forests
To better provide public and firefighter safety due to the ongoing wildfire crisis, U.S. Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region announced a temporary closure of all national forests in California. This closure went into effect on Aug. 31 at 11:59 p.m. and (at press time) was set to extend through Sept. 17 at 11:59 p.m. This order does not affect the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, which is not in the Pacific Southwest Region.
~ U.S. Forest Service press release
Biden Declares Wildfire Federal Disaster in Placer, Nevada, Lassen, Plumas Counties
On Aug. 24, Placer County was one of four California counties included in a wildfire disaster declaration approved by President Joe Biden. This action brings much needed financial assistance to people from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The approval came two days after it was requested by California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Placer and Nevada were both included as a result of the River Fire; Lassen and Plumas counties for impacts from the Dixie Fire.
All four counties were approved for both individual and public assistance. FEMA’s individual assistance program provides grants and other support programs to help eligible survivors that may include rent, home repair, home replacement, childcare, medical, and dental expenses.
Residents can apply for federal disaster assistance with FEMA online at disasterassistance.gov, by downloading the FEMA app to a smartphone or tablet, or by calling the FEMA Helpline at (800) 621-3362 between 7 a.m. and 10:30 p.m.
~ Placer County press release
$1 Million Awarded to Organizations Rescuing Animals Affected by Caldor
The Dave & Cheryl Duffield Foundation announced Sept. 1 it has awarded $1 million to 29 organizations helping to rescue, rehabilitate, and treat animals affected by the Caldor Fire. The efforts include assisting domestic animals, livestock, and wildlife who have been injured or displaced during this event. The Caldor Fire, which started Aug. 14, is impacting both California and Nevada communities and, to date, has burned more than 200,000 acres, including areas within the Lake Tahoe Basin.
The foundation took lengths to determine which agencies are on the ground, rescuing and treating animals affected by the fire, as well as local animal shelters and rescue organizations that have sent staffing for temporary shelters, transported animals, and offered to take in animals at their shelters.
~ Dave & Cheryl Duffield Foundation press release
Court Sides With Sierra Watch Over Development in Tahoe’s Squaw Valley
Tahoe conservationists led by local nonprofit Sierra Watch rejoiced when California’s Third District Court of Appeals shot down development plans in Squaw Valley.
A panel of three justices based their decision on the project’s impacts on Lake Tahoe, fire danger, noise, and traffic. They noted that Placer County’s environmental impact report, which is required to fully assess and disclose negative impacts from the development onto the surrounding environment, was inadequate. The ruling reverses a 2018 trial court finding and significantly sets back the developer, Alterra Mountain Company, though the company could seek a re-hearing by appealing to the California Supreme Court.
~ Sierra Watch press release
Local Schools’ Approach to Covid-19
RENO, NORTH TAHOE, TRUCKEE
Below is the latest information regarding Covid-19 protocol within school districts in Moonshine Ink’s coverage area. Please note that this information is correct as of press deadline, but is subject to change.
Tahoe Truckee Unified School District: A universal mask requirement is expected for all parties attending K-12 schools. Additionally, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Aug. 11 that school staff must be fully vaccinated. If they are not vaccinated, they must undergo weekly Covid-19 testing.
Washoe County School District: Each student, staff member, and visitor is required to wear a face covering while inside school buildings regardless of vaccination status, though they do not have to be worn while outside or eating or drinking. WCSD keeps a running tally of all positive cases across its schools, including breakdowns of cases by age and position (student or staff). View this information at washoeschools.net/page/15625.
TCPUD Implements Stage 2 Drought Water Conservation Requirements
On Aug. 20, in response to California’s severe drought conditions and increasing demands on the Tahoe City Public Utility District’s water supply, the district’s board of directors implemented Stage 2 of the TCPUD’s drought response standards and set a mandatory 15% reduction in water consumption.
Drought Response Stage 2 water conservation measures took effect on Sept. 1, and the TCPUD seeks to work collaboratively with its customers, residents, and visitors to take the necessary steps to reduce water consumption and meet the mandatory 15% reduction.
TCPUD has free water conservation kits available at the front counter of its administrative building at 221 Fairway Dr. in Tahoe City. Water efficiency rebates are also available for water efficient toilets, dishwashers, clothes washers, and smart irrigation control. Applications for water rebates and additional information about TCPUD water restrictions and ways to conserve water can be found at tcpud.org/conservation.
~ TCPUD press release
Annual Report Assesses the State of Lake Tahoe
The UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center released its annual Tahoe: State of the Lake Report on Aug. 12. The report informs nonscientists about important factors affecting the health of Lake Tahoe and provides the scientific underpinnings for ecosystem restoration and management decisions within the Tahoe Basin.
The report summarizes data collected during 2020 in the context of the long-term record of research at Lake Tahoe. UC Davis researchers have been continuously monitoring the lake since 1968.
Some highlights of this year’s report include:
- Weather and climate change: Annual average temperatures at the lake in 2020 were warmer than 2019. Precipitation was below the long-term average. Lake levels fell by almost two feet. The average lake surface water temperature was warmer than in 2019.
- Clarity: The lake’s average clarity was about the same as the previous year.
- Wildfire: Lake Tahoe was impacted by fires in August and September of 2020. Measurements showed that sunlight and UV radiation levels were far below their usual values because of the shield of thick smoke during this time.
- Changing nearshore: Metaphyton, unattached mats of green, filamentous algae at the lake bottom close to shore have been increasing over time. The increase is associated with the introduction of Asian clams to Lake Tahoe. Climate change is also expected to greatly increase the extent and duration of the algal blooms.
Read the full report at tahoe.ucdavis.edu/stateofthelake.
~ UC Davis press release
$1 Million Needed for ALERT Wildfire Cameras
ALERTWildfire, born of ALERT Tahoe, is a network of nearly 1,000 specialized camera installations used by first responders and volunteers to detect wildfires before they become too big. Tahoe Prosperity Center, the official nonprofit of the ALERTWildfire effort, is fundraising to enable the next decade of the wildfire protection network.
ALERTWildfire is a collaboration between major universities (Nevada, Reno; Oregon; and San Diego), first responders (Cal Fire, Emergency Services), federal agencies (U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management), and more, who use the strategically placed cameras 24/7 to protect people, homes, and the environment.
Contribute at tahoeprosperity.org/alertwildfire.
~ TPC press release
Structure Fire by Donner Lake Quickly Contained
On Aug. 30 around 5 p.m. on Donner Pass Road by Donner Lake, a residence was ablaze. The small structure fire devastated the home at which it started and reportedly jumped to wildland, but was quickly contained. The blaze was quelled by numerous groups including Cal Fire, the U.S. Forest Service, and local fire districts providing mutual aid assistance. Read Donner Lake Fire Gets Rapid Response online for more information about that close call, and how our local first responders ensure they’re helping with large wildfires while still able to respond efficiently nearby.
Supervisors Launch $2 Million Community Resiliency Grants Program
In early August, the Nevada County board of supervisors unanimously approved $2 million to launch a new Community Resiliency Grants program with funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. The decision follows the board’s April dedication of $5.8 million in ARPA funds for community and economic resiliency projects.
While applications for direct Covid-19 relief are eligible, applications that can demonstrate increased resiliency, build capacity, and leverage other resources will be most competitive. Eligible entities include nonprofit organizations, for-profit businesses, and special purpose districts. Grants will be capped at $100,000, and applications are due by Sept. 10. The request for application is located at: mynevadacounty.com/734/purchasing.
~ Nevada County press release
Airport’s 2021 Agency Partnership Program Launches
The Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation is partnering with the Truckee Tahoe Airport District to administer the airport’s 2021 Agency Partnership Program. Partnership requests must show public benefit and be more than $3,000. For more information, please reference TTAD’s Agency Partnership Program guidelines at bit.ly/2Ydw7nL.
The online portal to submit a letter of intent for requests is open from Sept. 8-21 and finalists will be notified at the end of the month. Finalists will have the month of October to submit a full proposal and recipients will be notified in early December.
~ TTCF e-news
Tahoe Fund Makes First Tahoe Trails Endowment Grant for Regional Trail Work
The Tahoe Fund awarded the first grant from the new Tahoe Trails Endowment to support a four-person trail crew from the Tahoe Area Mountain Bike Association this fall. The $11,700 grant will fund the efforts of the crew for three to four weeks, including transportation, tools, and personal protective equipment. Established as a way to address the long-term needs of Tahoe’s growing trail network, the Tahoe Fund hopes to grow the Tahoe Trails Endowment to $3 million to fund annual trail maintenance throughout the region.
TAMBA’s official trail crew will leverage the grant money to work on existing trails throughout the Tahoe Basin, addressing maintenance needs as they arise. Their focus will be on erosion control, fixing storm drainage, clearing brush and trees, and improving signage.
The endowment was launched with a generous $100,000 donation from Chris and Viktoria McNamara. Learn more and contribute to the Tahoe Trails Endowment at tahoefund.org.
~ Tahoe Fund press release
Truckee, Nevada and Placer Counties Join Workforce Housing Agency
The 2020-founded Truckee Tahoe Workforce Housing Agency represents about 2,000 Tahoe/Truckee employees’ housing rights. The organization announced that as of Sept. 1, the Town of Truckee, Placer County, and Nevada County have joined original partners Tahoe Forest Health System, Truckee Donner Public Utility District, Truckee Tahoe Airport District, and Tahoe Truckee Unified School District. In the organization’s year of direct workforce housing assistance, it has helped almost 100 employees in the area find housing.
Drought and Climate Change Shift Tree Disease
A study from the UC Davis, provides some of the first evidence that climate change and drought are shifting the range of infectious disease in forests suffering from white pine blister rust disease.
“Because pathogens have thermal tolerances, we are seeing expansions and contractions in this disease’s range,” said lead author Joan Dudney, a Davis H. Smith postdoctoral fellow at UC Davis in the lab of co-author Professor Andrew Latimer. “Climate change isn’t so much leading to widespread increases in this disease but rather shifting where it is emerging.”
The study, published Aug. 24 in the journal Nature Communications, found that white pine blister rust disease expanded its range into higher-elevation forests in the southern Sierra Nevada between 1996 and 2016. At the same time, it also contracted its range in lower elevations, where conditions were often too hot and dry for its survival.
“Our study clearly demonstrates that infectious plant diseases are moving upslope, and they’re moving fast,” Dudney said. “Few pines are resistant to what is basically a Northern Hemisphere white pine pandemic.”
The study suggests that whitebark pine and many other high-elevation pine species may become increasingly imperiled under climate change. Funding was provided by the U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service.
~ UC Davis press release