For the month of November we are donating a tree for every new member who joins our tribe with Sugar Pine Foundation. The trees will be planted in Tahoe National Forest. JOIN OUR TRIBE HERE.
Why must we Keep Tahoe Greener to Keep Tahoe Bluer?
Lake Tahoe’s famously clear waters continue to warm, and the surrounding forests face dire threats due to drought, disease and insects, according to the annual Tahoe State of the Lake report by researchers at UC Davis.
The second deepest lake in the United States after Crater Lake, Lake Tahoe has warmed by half a degree Fahrenheit each year for the past four years — 14 times faster than the historic rate, the report said.
Overall, summer weather has been persisting for longer, with earlier spring snowmelts. Last year’s snowmelt began on March 29, 2016 — 19 days earlier than in 1961, the report found. A warming climate may bring changes to Lake Tahoe’s ecosystems and the plants and animals they support.
“It’s making conditions less ideal for the species that are native to the lake that are adapted to the very high UV conditions and cold water temperature conditions,” said Geoffrey Schladow, the report’s author and director of the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center.
Climate change may also make it harder for native species to defend themselves when an invasive species shows up, he said.
This past year was also the fifth in a row without “deep mixing,” when oxygen sinks to the lake’s depths to sustain life there while pulling nutrients back up to the surface, the researchers found. The report said increases in water temperature correspond to years when deep mixing doesn’t occur. Without mixing, the bottom of the lake continues to heat due to the earth’s geothermal heat, raising its temperature by a small amount every year.
Tree mortality in Tahoe’s forests has also increased drastically, with the number of dead trees more than doubling from 35,000 in 2015 to 72,000 last year due to the stress of the drought combined with attacks from insects and disease, according to the report. The problem was worst on Tahoe’s north shore, but forests on the east shore were also affected.
Patricia Maloney, a researcher who is part of the Tahoe Environmental Research Center at UC Davis, likens the trees to straws in the ground that compete to suck up the water.
“These bark beetles, they will almost preferentially attack drought-stressed trees,” she said.
Beth Moxley, an arborist and owner of Rockwood Tree Service, has witnessed the damage from the blister rust fungus and pine beetle infestation. She’s worked in the Tahoe area since 1986.
“We’re basically in a crisis,” she said about the large number of dead and dying trees in the Tahoe Basin. “It all started with the drought. The trees become weakened and then they’re susceptible to attack by disease or insect infestation.”
We are committing to doing what we can, we would love to get 20 trees planted this month! Sign up here!