Summer rain an erosion threat after Angora Fire | TheUnion.com
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Summer rain an erosion threat after Angora Fire

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE – With firefighters gaining the upper hand on a five-day-old wildfire, authorities turned Friday to the task of preventing soil and ash from washing into Lake Tahoe’s famously blue waters before summer thunderstorms set in.

Even as they kept extinguishing hotspots, fire crews pivoted their attention to the work of reversing damage wrought by the fire, as well as their own efforts to combat it. A team of 25 biologists was scheduled to help them thwart erosion, heal bulldozed fire line scars and encourage new plant growth.

Speed was of the essence, soil and water scientists agreed, with perhaps only three or four weeks to go before summer rains arrive. Soil from denuded hillsides muddies the lake, while the nitrogen and phosphorous in ashes makes green algae grow on its sparkling surface.



Scientists said the so-called Angora fire was the worst wildfire here in a century. It also burned in a particularly sensitive area: a watershed that provides a quarter of the water that runs into the lake. About 10 percent of the watershed – some 3,100 acres – was destroyed.

In some areas, scientists say, the fire burned so intensely it “mineralized” the soil, destroying the nutrients necessary to sustain plant life. It also may have created a layer of soil about 5 centimeters deep that is impervious to water, which could keep moisture from soaking in.




That means workers may have to amend the soil before anything can grow back and to prevent erosion, lay down mesh mats, mulch and logs.

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The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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