Tahoe Forest Stewardship Days is the region’s largest ecosystem restoration event
LAKE TAHOE, Nev./Calif. – Sawdust drifts into a small pile as a volunteer cuts a fallen log into six-foot lengths. Around her, a team of five are busy lopping pine boughs and carefully placing timber across a narrow stretch of Saxon Creek in the community of Meyers, mimicking the work of beavers who once lived there. If they’re successful, this “beaver dam analog” will help restore the creek’s natural, meandering course, filter out sediments that degrade Lake Tahoe’s clarity, and invite the beavers to return.
The work was one of a half dozen projects undertaken by 70 volunteers as part of Tahoe Forest Stewardship Days (TFSD), a semi-annual ecosystem restoration event hosted by the League to Save Lake Tahoe since 1997. TFSD enlists Tahoe-lovers to get their hands dirty healing the land, because healthy forests, streams and wetlands act as natural filters that Keep Tahoe Blue. The most recent TFSD event took place at two sites in South Tahoe: Saxon Creek in Meyers and the meadow near Baldwin Beach. The League teamed up with the Nevada Tahoe Conservation District and USDA Forest Service’s Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit to revitalize the two sites.
Volunteers at this fall’s event included repeat participants, as well as new faces. At Saxon Creek, a mountain biker on his way to the nearby Corral mountain bike trails saw the restoration projects underway, set his bike down and joined in. Another first-timer, Noelle Poulsen, made the trip from Vacaville to participate in TFSD.
“My family has deep roots in Tahoe, and I’ve been a supporter and donor to the League’s work for a long time,” said Noelle. “Most weekends, I volunteer as a ranger at Muir Woods National Monument, but this event sounded like a great opportunity to give back to the environment. It did not disappoint.”
The projects at Saxon Creek took place just downslope from an area charred by the 2021 Caldor Fire. In the past few years, the Nevada Tahoe Conservation District has taken great strides in re-engineering the stretch of creek to restore its natural, meandering flow, where water moves slowly through the landscape. TFSD volunteers lent a helping hand by planting native plants in sandy banks, distributing seeds, laying down erosion control blankets, and installing willow stakes, fascines (bundled branches) and brush mattresses. It was all an effort to keep the stream banks and floodplain from washing away during heavy storms. A healthier creek will also trap sediments flowing downslope from the Caldor burn scar, keeping those clarity-degrading particles out of Lake Tahoe.
“The work accomplished on Tahoe Forest Stewardship Day will promote riparian vegetation growth and help retain water and sediment on the landscape. This will increase floodplain connectivity and reduce channel incision in Saxon Creek and will help kickstart natural processes that should continue to improve aquatic habitat, water quality and fire resilience in the watershed for years to come,” noted Patrick Johnson, staff engineer from the Nevada Tahoe Conservation District. “We are grateful to the League and its volunteers for their help, and we encourage all participants to return to Saxon Creek in future years to observe the ongoing changes that are a result of their work.”
At Baldwin Beach, volunteers removed conifer trees creeping into the sensitive meadow and Aspen habitat. Due to the prolonged droughts Tahoe has faced over the past two decades, thirsty trees have moved farther into these areas that were traditionally meadows, draining water from the soil and changing the ecosystem. By selectively removing encroaching trees, the League’s volunteers left the meadow and Aspen stands healthier. They also collected litter to protect wildlife.
“The land and water here in the Basin are linked together so closely. We can’t have a healthy Lake without healthy forests, streams and meadows,” said Marilee Movius, senior community engagement manager for the League to Save Lake Tahoe. “I love our Tahoe Forest Stewardship Days projects because our volunteers learn important lessons about Tahoe’s ecology while they improve the ecosystem.”
The League’s work to restore, revitalize and regenerate Tahoe’s ecosystem depends on the generosity of individuals and organizations. To support all the League’s lake-saving work, visit keeptahoeblue.org/donate.
Restoration Statistics – 26th Annual Tahoe Forest Stewardship Day
- 7,111 encroaching conifers removed from the meadow and Aspen stand
- 30,000 square feet of habitat restored
- 350 willow stakes planted
- 3 willow mattresses and 15 fascines installed
- 4 beaver dam analogs installed
- 125 wetland plant plugs planted
- 2,000 square feet of stream bank slopes mulched, revegetated with native seeds and protected by erosion control blankets
Media Resources: Photos and videos
League to Save Lake Tahoe, Chris Joseph, 805.722.5646
The League to Save Lake Tahoe, also known by its iconic slogan “Keep Tahoe Blue,” protects and restores the Tahoe Basin’s unique natural beauty and environmental health – today and for future generations. Guided by science, we develop innovative solutions to complex environmental problems, mobilize thousands of volunteers each year, and act as both watchdog and advocate for Tahoe’s well-being. Learn more about our 66-year-old 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization at keeptahoeblue.org.