To protect lives, property, and the environment of the Lake Tahoe Basin from wildfire by implementing prioritized fuels reduction projects and educating the public on becoming a Fire Adapted Community.
Tahoe Fire & Fuels Team
Fire and Fuels
The Tahoe Fire & Fuels Team (TFFT) was formed in 2008 to implement the Lake Tahoe Basin Multi-Jurisdictional Fuel Reduction and Wildfire Prevention Strategy. Members are a group of dedicated professionals committed to protecting life, property and the environment at Lake Tahoe through proper management of the forests to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire, thereby protecting communities, while safeguarding the exceptional natural resources of Lake Tahoe.
The TFFT utilizes the Incident Command System to share resources and knowledge, improve project planning, tracking, and reporting and to implement public education and outreach programs. The TFFT is overseen by a Multi-Agency Coordinating Group which includes the seven Lake Tahoe Basin fire chiefs and eight local agency executives. Download a list here.
Partner and Supporting Organizations:
- City of South Lake Tahoe Fire Department 530-542-6180
- Fallen Leaf Fire Department 530-542-1343
- Lake Valley Fire Protection District 530-577-2447
- Meeks Bay Fire Protection District 530-525-7558
- North Tahoe Fire Protection District 530-546-2212
- North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District 775-831-0351
- Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District 775-588-3591
- California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
- California Department of Parks and Recreation
- California Tahoe Conservancy
- Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board
- Nevada Division of Forestry
- Nevada Division of State Lands
- Tahoe Regional Planning Agency
- Tahoe Resource Conservation District
- U. S. Forest Service – Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit
- University of California Cooperative Extension
- University of Nevada Cooperative Extension
The TFFT Fire Public Information Team (Fire PIT) is comprised of agency public information/education staff members within the TFFT. The primary role of the TFFT Fire PIT is to provide educational information to the public with regards to fire safety and fire prevention in the wildland urban interface, supported by public relations efforts through coordinated community events.
Numerous programs that can help you create defensible space are available in each fire service area of the Tahoe Basin. Everything from free dump day for pine needles and cleared brush to a curbside visit by a chipping machine for downed limbs and trees may be available in your area. Contact your local fire agency for more information. See the fire district map here for contact information.
The most important free help you can get is a defensible space evaluation and a copy of “Fire Adapted Communities – The Next Step in Wildfire Preparedness”. Download a copy here or pick one up at your closest fire station. While fire services have an important role, creating defensible space is the responsibility of you and your neighbors. And working together with neighbors is a great way to reduce the costs as you work towards becoming a fire adapted community.
- Best Management Practices (BMP) Inspections
- Conservation Landscaping
- Curbside chipping – Contact your local fire agency
- Defensible Space Evaluations – Contact your local fire agency
- Forest Fuel Reduction – Contact your local fire agency or the U. S. Forest Service
- Managing Vacant Lots - Contact your county or fire agency to determine ownership
- Stewardship Programs – Contact the U. S. Forest Service, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, 530-543-2600 or visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/ltbmu
A lush, healthy forest and a beautiful healthy lake are part of what make Tahoe a special place. Trees need to be thinned from the forest to keep it healthy, but thinning trees the wrong way can threaten our delicately balanced ecosystem. Even though you may need a permit to remove certain trees, the environmental and fire protection agencies have made sure the rules don’t stand in the say of creating defensible space and removing hazardous trees.
- In general, 14-inches in diameter is the only number you need to know.
- Tree diameter is measured 4.5 feet above ground, from the uphill side of the tree.
- If your home is on the shoreline of Lake Tahoe or in a stream environment zone (SEZ), special rules apply and you should contact a forester at the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) for advice.
Occasionally there are updates to the rules and where to get permits. Please review the chart below for the most current information.
When in doubt, please contact your local fire agency.
In some areas of the Lake Tahoe Basin, prescribed fire is used by agencies to reduce wildfire fuels near homes. Prescribed fire is the intentional use of fire to manage vegetation. A prescribed fire project is well-planned, carefully orchestrated and involves the disciplines of fire ecology, fire suppression, forestry and public safety.
The important parts of a prescribed fire project are:
- Training – Personnel have received extensive training and have been certified in prescribed fire.
- Preburn Activities – Each winter a multidisciplinary team develops the “Burn Plan” for the upcoming fall burn season. During the summer months work crews start preparing the burn sites by creating firebreaks, clearing around high value trees and thinning dense pockets of brush.
- Burn Day – The specific date of a proposed fire cannot be determined very far in advance. A “Go/No-go Checklist” is used to decide if a prescribed fire can be safely and effectively conducted. If the necessary conditions are not optimal, the fire will be postponed until conditions “come into prescription.” The illustration presented at left portrays a typical prescribed fire.
- Tending the Burn – Prescribed fires are managed to minimize smoke production and maximize fuel consumption. Personnel closely monitor the site until the project is completed.
Below are announcements of current or upcoming Prescribed Fires:
The 2015 Incident Action Plan will be posted here upon approval in April.
- 2015 Incident Action Plan (pending)
Q - Erosion Control BMPs and Defensible Space are both required, but how and when do I do both?
A - Storm water Best Management Practices (BMPs) and Defensible Space work together and you can save time and money by combining the work. BMPs are required to stabilize bare soil and create infiltration areas where rainwater is diverted before it runs off your property. Since the 1960s, Lake Tahoe has lost around 30-feet of its famous clarity because too much fine sediment is washed off our properties when it rains. BMPs for storm water and erosion control are steps required by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) for everyone in the Tahoe Basin.
Q - What do I do about pine needles and other dead material outside of the five-foot non-combustible zone?
A - Rake them in the spring and let them fall through the rest of the year. You must keep all pine needles and flammable vegetation clear within five-feet of your house or other structures. Outside of this area, clear flammable vegetation to about a 30-feet radius from structures. Local fire chiefs and erosion-control experts are in complete agreement that you can leave some pine needles or other mulch covering bare soil areas to keep the soil healthy and save it from erosion. However, don’t let fresh pine needles build up or cover areas larger than 30 feet across. In between areas of pine needle or wood mulch, maintain a non-combustible space. For more information, visit the Before The Fire section of this website.
Q - I know that fire has been a natural and important part of the Lake Tahoe environment for thousands of years. What has changed?
A - Fire ecology is concerned with the processes linking the natural incidence of fire in an ecosystem and the ecological effects of this fire. To learn about the fire ecology of the Lake Tahoe Basin, visit the Fire Ecology section of this website.