North Lake Tahoe, Calif.-- A joint agency program is now under way to remove woody biomass material from wildland-urban interface areas in the Lake Tahoe Basin.
Each year, a huge amount of woody material is collected in the Tahoe Basinthrough forest thinning, creation of defensible space and clearing shaded fuel breaks. Some of this cleared material is then burned. The smoke from these fires pollutes the air and the particulate matter ends up in the waters in the Basin, negatively affecting Lake Tahoe’s famed water clarity.
"We have an abundance of woody material throughout the Sierra," said Placer County Supervisor Bruce Kranz, whose 5th District encompasses part of both the Sierra and Lake Tahoe. "We're working on coming up with a model for a cost-effective way to get it to the biomass facilities. This will create clean energy, reduce air and water pollution and reduce the threat of fire."
, along with the Nevada Fire Safe Council, North Tahoe Fire Protection District, U.S. Forest Service, California State Parks and other interested parties, is moving ahead with an alternative to burning the material. The Tahoe Basin Biomass Removal Program began late this summer. The County is funding a program where the collected material is chipped and then transported to the nearest biomass recycling facility. The Lake Tahoeenvironment will be greatly improved.
The material will be chipped on site and transported to the County facility at Cabin Creek, which is just outside the Tahoe Basin. From there it will be hauled to a biomass facility in Loyalton by Tahoe Truckee Sierra Disposal. The material will then be converted into clean energy.
The first project is in the Dollar Point area and began in early September. Work has also begun at the Granlibakken Resort in Tahoe City. U.S. Forest Service land within Placer Countyin the Basin will be next, along with Burton Creek State Park.
"The hang-up for biomass has been getting a guaranteed supply of biomass material," said John Pickett from the Nevada Fire Safe Council. "With this work, we can guarantee that we have a secure supply stream (to fuel the biomass facilities)."
will carefully track the program so information gleaned from this pilot program can be shared with the other regions in the state that suffer from the threat of catastrophic wildfire. The hope is to build a program for effective biomass removal and transport that can be a model for use in any forested jurisdiction. To accomplish this, the model will need to be easily adapted to other potential biomass facilities.
Kranz and other local officials and interested parties have made several trips to WashingtonD.C.to secure funding and work on changes to federal policy to allow the collection of woody material from Forest Service land.
For additional information on the Tahoe Basin Biomass Removal Program, contact the Placer County Biomass Project office at (530) 889-4651.