Healthy Forests, Clean Water

We're thinning trees at Independence Lake Preserve to prevent catastrophic fires—and to protect drinking water for nature and people in northern Nevada.

Not seeing the forest for the trees is more than just an old figure of speech. It can also be perfect conditions for life-threatening catastophic fires.

Three years ago, the forest at Independence Lake Preserve was densely overgrown and at serious risk. We're fighting fires before they start by restoring the forest to a healthier condition.

Having fewer, healthier trees at the lake will protect fresh drinking water for more than 300,00 people in two of the largest communities in northern Nevada: Reno and Sparks. And it helps maintain the lake's health and beauty as a recreation destination.

And it's about more than people. A catastrophic fire would be disastrous for the native fish that call Independence Lake home. The lake supports one of only two remaining wild, self-suststaining lake populations of Lahonthan cutthroat trout in the world.

The restoration project is now in it's fifth year. To date we've restored more than 600 acres of nearby white fir and lodgepole pine forests.

Though logging has historically taken place at Independence Lake, our strategies are quite different from the historic way of doing things.

You won't see horses and wagons like in this old picture. Large, specialized equipment helps us manage forests efficiently and effectively today.

We use a variety of timber harvesting equipment designed to yield maximum results with minimal impact. Technology similar to GIS tracking verifies project boundaries.

To decrease fuel that can feed catastrophic fire, dead and woody debris is removed. Entire trees are also cut down in areas where they're too close together.

The masticator, seen here, turns hazardous fuels into wood chips.

In the next several photos, you can see the difference that forest thinning makes. This photo was taken before our forest-thinning project.

Here is the same area after thinning.

Again, here's before.

And after.

Before ...

... and after. See the difference?

Sustainable forest management is just one of the ways we're working at Independence Lake and across Nevada. We're solving some of the biggest threats facing Nevada and the world.

Plan your visit and learn more about all the work we're doing to protect the high Sierra gem that is Independence Lake.

Without your support, our work is not possible. Donate today to keep Nevada a a place where both nature and people can thrive.