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News-Science: Clarity of Lake Tahoe Declines | High Sierra Backpacker

News-Science: Clarity of Lake Tahoe Declines

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 01 September 2011

As we can understand from this article,

Clarity of Lake Tahoe declines in 2010, sac bee aug 12, 2011,

Lake Tahoe's water clarity, one of its most unique assets, is in decline and under serious pressure from existing over-development, as is almost every environmental asset in California and the whole country.

And they, the politicians of both parties, are working hard as heck to earn their bribes and push further unwise development in the Tahoe Basin.

I'm going to avoid the development fight, and just state that I believe in balance. If we are going to grow, it must be qualitatively, not quanitatively. As our numbers have increased, so too has the quality of life decreased, along with what remains of our environment.

That said, our "stewardship" of this whole state is questionable. We have ravaged the beauties of the Sierra Nevada many, many times.

We ravaged everything in the Sierra with the hydrolic mining from the 1850s to its end, by legal ban, 1884. We cut down the Big Trees!

Now our greed and irresponsible growth have damaged the emerald of the High Sierra, Lake Tahoe.

Our measurements of clarity are a blind snapshot that does not reveal the certain future: we have already doomed Lake Tahoe to an incredible darkening. It is just a matter of time.

The mechanism of Lake Tahoe's future darkening is already in place, and it just remains for the "trigger" to be pulled.

It is common knowledge that the forests along the Western Shore of Lake Tahoe are ready to burn, and burn in a major conflagaration. These forests are incredibly dry.

The degraded-dead-state of a significant amount of the trees composing the Western Tahoe forests, combined with the depth of the ultra-dry forest floor litter, up to two feet deep in places, assures that there will be a major fire on the Western shore of Lake Tahoe in our future.

The runoff from the fire itself, combined with the subsequent Spring runoff from the denuded forests will cloud Lake Tahoe with silt.

Our long-term forest managment policy of fire suppression seems to be to blame for this particular danger.

It looks like the LTBMU is trying hard to clear out the foret floor litter with controlled burns, but those themselves are harrowing, and present real dangers of big fires if not conducted during the moist soil conditions of early Spring and late Fall. Those controlled burns get out of hand all the time...

If we want to save the clarity of Lake Tahoe, and preserve the few remaining natural resources in this once-great state, we are going to have to seriously change how we have done things for the last 40 years.


Also See: Mark Twain's descriptions of Lake Tahoe from Roughning It.


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