Tahoe Rim Trail through Spooner reopens | RecordCourier.com

Tahoe Rim Trail through Spooner reopens

by Claire Cudahy
ccudahy@swiftcom.com

The Tahoe Rim Trail portion of the forest thinning project in the Spooner Backcountry re-opened over the weekend.

Hikers should stay on the trail to avoid heavy equipment operating below the trail, officials said.

The Spooner Lake Loop trail will remain closed due to the continuation of helicopter activity.

Starting in mid-September, multiple agencies from the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources began removing approximately 5,600 conifers from 300 acres in the state park. With decreased competition, the remaining trees have more space to thrive.

"We go in and see where there is a need for thinning to create a forest that is more resilient to wildfire, drought, and any insect attacks," said Liz Kingsland, Tahoe program manager for the Nevada Division of State Lands.

"It's a very steep sensitive area and we don't have many roads in the backcountry of Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park. So in this case rather than going in and building a road and potentially impacting the environment in that process, we decided to go an alternative route."

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That alternative process involves a helicopter airlifting the trees out to a landing spot where the branches are removed and turned into wood chips that go to a biomass facility in Loyalton, California. The trunks are sent on a truck to Sierra Pacific Mill in Quincy, California to be processed into lumber.

The $2.5-million project is "not something that happens everyday," said Kingsland.

"It's a more expensive operation, but we felt that for all of the benefits that we're going to achieve using this process, it made sense in this particular circumstance."

The project is expected to be completed in two to four more weeks.

In the meantime, officials warned people to stay off the closed portion of the trail for their own safety.

"Failure to comply with trail closures endangers the safety of the public and causes a disruption in operations, prolonging the project timeline," according to the state.