By Dan Shapley
Post-Wildfire Erosion Threatens Clarity In World Famous Alpine Lake
The good news is that firefighters have contained the Angora fire near Lake Tahoe. The bad news, however, goes beyond the 3,100 acres of forest burned, the evacuation of 3,500 people, the 325 homes and other structures lost and the bill: $11 million and on its way to 10 times that or more. The forest will regenerate. The homes will, in many cases, be re-built and residents and vacationers will return to the famously clear alpine lake. But the lake may not be so famously clear. With about 10% of its watershed burned, about one quarter of the water flowing into the lake is now flowing through denuded forest. That means rainwater will carry with it soil, as well as excess nutrients released by the flames. All that will decrease the clarity of the blue waters. The extent to which the runoff will have a lasting, noticeable effect remains to be seen. But the legacy of the Angora fire may well be recognized around Lake Tahoe for years to come.