Forest Management at Webber Lake and Lacey Meadows is helping to protect wildlife habitat and decrease the risk of wildfire.
The meadows and forests that surround Webber Lake - protected by the Truckee Donner Land Trust in 2012 - gather the waters that become the Little Truckee River. The Little Truckee Basin contributes a large volume of water to the Truckee River producing clean, clear water for downstream users. It's the most pristine basin in the watershed and is critical for wildlife habitat.
Well-intentioned forest management practices over the past century focused on fire suppression and have left Sierra forests out of equilibrium. The absence of regularly occurring fire causes overcrowding of trees and a buildup of burnable fuels on the forest floor. In addition, the mere existence of too many trees impacts available habitat for wildlife and makes the forest more susceptible to disease and infestation.
The forests surrounding Webber Lake and Lacey Meadows, while pristine and beautiful, are out of balance, as are most forests in the Sierra. Some stands of pine trees are infested with bark beetles and mistletoe, and are so dense that plant regeneration on the forest floor is stifled by a lack of sunlight. In addition, lodgepole pines are encroaching into Lacey Meadows, converting prime meadow habitat into forest.
Forestry efforts on Land Trust properties were significant in 2017 with spending of $200,000 at Webber Lake and $500,000 at Royal Gorge. Grants from the Truckee River Fund of the Community Foundation of Western Nevada, and the Sierra Nevada Conservancy supported the Land Trust’s 2017 efforts to protect the forests surrounding Webber Lake and Lacey Meadows. In addition to making the area more fire-safe, there are now many more areas with views of the lake.
Forestry over the next five years will focus on removing beetle-killed trees and reclaiming meadow habitat from encroaching stands of lodgepole pines. Forestry is noisy at times and the forest looks a little less pristine during the year following treatment, but it is necessary for the long-term health of Webber Lake and the Little Truckee River.
Nature is amazingly resilient! Take a look at photos that illustrate the "before" and "after" of good forest management: