Landscape restoration after the Angora fire

The Issue

Landscape restoration after the Angora fire
Youth from Tahoe Turning Point plant aspen in the Angora burn demonstration area in November 2009
The Angora Fire burned 3,100 forested acres and more than 250 homes in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., in June 2007. Within a few months, all home debris and dead trees were removed from the burned neighborhood, leaving bare ground with unobstructed views of the mountain landscape and neighbors' new homes. Without a sheltering forest, the area is now much windier and the water table is higher. In addition to rebuilding their homes, local residents faced the task of establishing a landscape from the ground up under altered environmental conditions. Residents were looking for information on how to replant to reduce risk of future fires and how to coordinate planting to achieve neighborhood consistency.

What Has ANR Done?

A UC Cooperative Extension advisor carried out a planning process with affected residents to develop guidelines for replanting in the burn area. Residents said the death of the neighborhood forest left them with a sense of profound loss. They wanted to re-establish a functioning landscape as quickly as possible. Recommendations, developed with assistance of a local landscape architect, included planting large native trees and fast growing native plants, re-establishing ground cover quickly, and using vegetation adapted to new higher water tables. Public areas were identified to strategically site larger trees to improve neighborhood visual quality.

The Payoff

Residents receive guidance and funding for revegetation

A set of voluntary revegetation guidelines was produced and sent to 184 affected homeowners along with a $1,700 voucher to purchase plants at local nurseries. Funds were provided by donations to fire victims and dispersed through a local non-profit organization, the Angora Resource Recovery Center. A student intern, funded by the California Communities Program, coordinated planting of a demonstration area in November 2009. Native trees and shrubs - such as aspen, Jeffrey pine, incense cedar and dogwood - were planted to demonstrate the planting recommendations on several county-owned lots identified during the planning process. About three-quarters of affected residents are rebuilding homes and moving back to the neighborhood. It will be a long time before a mature forest returns, but residents now have access to the expertise and funds needed to get their neighborhood forest off to the right start.

Contact

Supporting Unit: El Dorado County

Susie Kocher, (530) 542-2571, sdkocher@ucdavis.edu