Ninth Circuit Court upholds Angora Project analysis

South Lake Tahoe, Calif. – As fuels reduction and forest health work in the Angora Fire area draws to a close, the U.S. Forest Service learned today that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit today unanimously affirmed a district court ruling upholding the agency’s environmental analysis for the project.

The Angora Restoration Project was designed to protect wildlife habitat as well as reduce long-term wildfire risk to local communities. The Forest Service has completed mechanical and hand thinning of trees on approximately 1,441 acres in the Angora Fire area – primarily removing burned trees for fuels reduction, as well as some green trees to improve forest health. The Forest Service left approximately 1,168 acres of the fire area untreated for species such as the black-backed woodpecker that use burned forests as habitat. Wildlife “leave islands,” downed trees and snags ensure that these habitat types remain even within treated areas.

“We are pleased that the Ninth Circuit found the agency’s environmental analysis to be sound, and that the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit was able to complete fuels reduction and forest health work in the area while the court deliberated,” said Pacific Southwest Deputy Regional Forester Barnie Gyant. “Our forests have the difficult task of balancing the needs of many species, as well as the safety of their local communities, and the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit met that challenge.”

Caused by an abandoned illegal campfire, the Angora Fire burned 3,100 acres near South Lake Tahoe, including 2,700 acres of National Forest System lands. The Forest Service completed most short-term rehabilitation work in the first year after the fire, but decided to develop a comprehensive project to address past human impacts to the area that were affecting wildfire risk, forest health and stream, meadow and wetland function. The Forest Service expects to complete improvements to the road and trail system included in the project this fall, while work to restore Seneca Pond and Angora Creek will continue. The Forest Service will also complete prescribed burning of piles left from thinning operations and continue noxious weed treatments. The agency has planted approximately 700 acres with native seedlings to jumpstart reforestation in some parts of the fire area. To learn more about the Angora Restoration Project, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/ltbmu/AngoraRestoration.