DRI Awarded Five Lake Tahoe Research Projects

Five of the 15 Lake Tahoe research projects funded by the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act (SNPLMA) worth $1.66 million have been awarded to the Desert Research Institute.

"When you consider that 90 projects were submitted for consideration and that five that were submitted by DRI were accepted, that's truly an accomplishment to be proud of," said Steve Wells, DRI President. "This is a great example of the high level of research that our scientists conduct."

The five projects DRI will lead include:

1) Potential Nutrient Emissions from Prescribed Fire in the Lake Tahoe Basin: DRI Principal Investigators (PIs); Paul Verburg, Richard Susfalk, Lung-Wen Antony Chen.

This study will assess the potential impacts of fuel reductions through prescribed fire on water and air quality in the basin as a function of fuel condition.

This information can be used by forest managers to optimize burn practices by balancing environmental impacts with management objectives.

2) Lake Tahoe Source Attribution Study: DRI PIs; Johann Engelbrecht, Alan Gertler, Tony VanCuren. Knowing the sources contributing to air pollution in the Lake Tahoe basin is crucial for determining the impact of atmospheric deposition on water quality in Lake Tahoe.

Atmospheric deposition is a major contributor to the decline in lake clarity.

3) Quantify the Cost Effectiveness of Different Road Dust Control Strategies applied in the Lake Tahoe Basin: DRI PIs; Hampden Kuhns, John Gillies, Vicken Etyemezian, Alan Gertler, Steven Cliff. Previous DRI emissions studies indicate that nearly 300 metric tons of fine particulates are contributed annually to the atmosphere by cars driving on paved roads in the basin.

Other sources of particulate emissions include wind blown dust, unpaved road dust and fires.

This study will provide a more accurate and up-to-date emission inventory of the various local sources of air pollution.

3) Development of a Best Management Practices Performance Assessment and Data Analysis System for the Tahoe Integrated Information Management System: DRI PI: Alan Heyvaert. The unique climate, geology, vegetation, environmental management practices, and desired water quality in Lake Tahoe result in conditions and water treatment processes that are unique to the Lake Tahoe basin.

This study will develop standardized protocols for monitoring, reporting, and evaluating the performance of erosion control projects in the Lake Tahoe basin.

4) Tahoe Basin Particle Size Analysis and Protocol Development: DRI PIs: Alan Heyvaert, Todd Caldwell. DRI will work with UC Davis to create a uniform, consistent and inter-comparable data base that includes all available data on particle size distribution and composition for Lake Tahoe's streams, urban runoff, the atmosphere and the lake.

Fine particles in the lake are a major factor in reducing lake clarity.

"These research projects culminate a great year in our collective efforts to preserve Lake Tahoe in partnership with UC Davis, the University of Nevada, Reno, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Pacific Southwest Research Station in which we opened the Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences at Sierra Nevada College this past summer," said Jim Thomas, DRI's Director of the Center for Watersheds Environmental Sustainability.