There are tens of thousands of private homes in the Lake Tahoe watershed, each nestled into its own part of the forest. Homeowners are among the most important stewards of Lake Tahoe because they help integrate this network of homes into an incredibly fragile ecosystem. While town centers, hotels and resorts stand out as when we think about environmental impacts to Lake Tahoe, residential neighborhoods quietly make up 85 percent of the all private land and can cause significant impacts to Lake Tahoe if not carefully managed. From defensible space to stormwater infiltration, there are a number of simple things that every homeowner can do to help integrate their property into the ecosystem.
Maintain some open space
Science has shown that the soil of the Lake Tahoe Basin is soft and granitic. It is prone to erosion and does not withstand disturbance well. For these reasons, property owners are required to preserve some natural open space on every parcel. Maintaining open space helps residential areas maintain the precious vegetation, root systems and biologic processes that keep soil healthy. Land coverage exemptions may may be available as an incentive to property owners in non-sensitive areas who have a BMP completion certificate.
Land Coverage Exemptions for Residential Improvements Information Packet and Worksheets
Install Water Quality Best Management Practices
One of the main contributors to the declining clarity in the lake is sediment runoff from roadways, driveways, and other impervious surfaces. This runoff clouds the lake with sediment particles thinner that a human hair and helps feed algae. Those two factors, fine sediment and algae growth, have depleted Lake Tahoe’s historic clarity by approximately 30 feet since the 1960s. As a homeowner in the Basin, you can help protect the lake by installing Best Management Practices (BMPs) on your property. BMPs help slow the process of the runoff from reaching the lake and help prevent erosion. BMPs vary from very simple, such as revegetating a bare slope, to complex, such as a stormwater pre-treatment system. All homeowners in the Tahoe Basin are required to have installed BMPs on their property.
Tahoe BMP Website
Get Defensive against wildfire
Trees & Defensible Space
Use the Homeowner Info links at right to find out more about TRPA polices that help integrate the network of homes around the Basin into the natural landscape.