Tahoe-Central Sierra Initiative

What is the Tahoe-Central Sierra Initiative (TCSI)?

The Tahoe-Central Sierra Initiative (TCSI), a part of the Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program (WIP), brings together innovative approaches to increase the pace and scale of restoration work that gets done across the watersheds of the Central Sierra Nevada and Lake Tahoe areas.

The TCSI accelerates the implementation of ecologically sound forest restoration at a large-landscape scale. The Initiative will seek to develop biomass utilization infrastructure, establish unique partnerships, utilize creative funding and planning approaches, address policy constraints, and test new techniques on the ground. This can be a real game-changer—lessons learned from the TCSI can be applied across the Sierra Nevada to increase the pace and scale of restoration in a region that is rapidly deteriorating.

The TCSI is a part of the Sierra Nevada Watershed Improvement Program, which builds upon the objectives and activities of:

  • the California Governor’s Tree Mortality Task Force
  • the CA Water Action Plan
  • the Safeguarding CA Plan
  • several large-scale regional efforts

The TCSI builds on a legacy of successful partnership between local, state, federal, and private stakeholders at Lake Tahoe.

This effort is being led by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy and the California Tahoe Conservancy, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service Region 5, Tahoe National Forest, Eldorado National Forest, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, National Forest Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, California Forestry Association, USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research Station, University of California-Natural Reserve System, and Sagehen Creek Field Station.

Additional partners are becoming engaged as the effort gains momentum.

Click on the map to find out more about innovative approaches that partners are working on under the TCSI.

Why is the TCSI needed now?

The watersheds of the Tahoe-Central Sierra area are crucial for:

  • downstream communities
  • agricultural interests
  • recreationalists
  • the environment

The forested watersheds here provide flows critical to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, as well as to northern Nevada communities. They:

  • contain large amounts of carbon
  • produce substantial amounts of wood products and clean energy
  • provide significant fish and wildlife habitat
  • are a recreational playground for millions of visitors year round

At the same time, this area is a landscape at significant risk of large severe wildfire and unnatural levels of tree mortality, given the overgrown, unhealthy forest conditions that exist here.

What does the TCSI seek to achieve?

The major goal of the initiative is to improve the health and resiliency of the forest ecosystems and communities in the TCSI landscape, ensuring that the wide variety of benefits that the region provides continue in the future. We will do this by:

  1. Supporting, developing, and implementing science-based large landscape restoration projects with integrated design, implementation, and monitoring;
  2. Supporting, developing, and implementing biomass and wood utilization facilities, including providing raw materials for existing facilities;
  3. Attracting investment from a wide range of parties, including federal and state entities, private capital and downstream beneficiaries;
  4. Exploring “new ways of doing business,” particularly in regards to efforts on land managed by the USFS; and
  5. Integrating research and monitoring into activities to guide creation of fire and climate resilient forests and fire–adapted communities across ownerships.