Sugar Pine revival taking place at Lake Tahoe

Reno, (Nev) KOLO It's just a little seedling, but Maria Mircheva says it's a start.

“Better to light a candle than curse the darkness,” says Maria Mircheva with the Sugar Pine Foundation.

Mircheva is alluding to the Sugar Pine. Once it made up 25% of the trees in the Tahoe Basin. Now it is less than 5%. A fungus has taken its toll on the tree.

But fires like the 2016 Emerald Fire have also destroyed the trees. And in this burned out, dusty landscape, Mircheva sees opportunity to bring the tree back to its full glory.

“I do. I see opportunity because this was an evenly aged forest that was logged. I see an opportunity to restore sugar pines also at different age classes into this forest,” says MIrcheva.

Mircheva says seedlings come from other Sugar Pines that have shown a better resistance to the fungus called blister rush.

Once they are one or two years old, volunteers plant them in burned out areas or on abandoned logging roads, or even on private property when approved.

Federal and state forestry services often ask for their assistance to plant the Sugar Pine in areas of need.

Mircheva holds a Sugar Pine cone, the largest in the pine family.

You can often see them hanging from the branches of the Sugar Pine. Seeds from the cone also produce the world's largest pine species.

She says she doesn't want the tree to outnumber all others in the Tahoe Basin. Rather, she says, she wants to add diversity and subsequent health to the forest.