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Basin Topics > Soils

Soil conservation is essential for the maintenance of healthy plant communities, prevention of erosion, protection of water quality, maintenance of healthy stream systems, and protection of lake clarity. There are two major topics in soil conservation: impervious land coverage and stream environment zones (SEZs).  
[Photo]: View of mountain with trees in the foreground.   Copyright: Aric van Staveren
Although SEZ plant communities constitute a small portion of the Lake Tahoe Basin’s total vegetated land area, 11 percent, they are extremely valuable in providing habitat for wildlife, purification of water, and scenic enjoyment. Since the late 1970s, regulatory agencies within the Lake Tahoe Basin have used the land capability classification system known as the (Land-Capability Classification of the Lake Tahoe Basin, California-Nevada A Guide to Planning – Bailey, 1974) to evaluate applications that request either additional land coverage to existing developed lots or building permits for new development. In 1989, the IPES replaced the Bailey System as the method for determining eligibility for building on vacant single-family residential parcels. Both of these programs were developed as erosion control techniques to mitigate the deleterious effects to stream systems and water quality that result from excessive land coverage. Together, the Bailey System and IPES restrict the amount of impervious land coverage on all parcels and generally prohibit new land coverage within areas classified as SEZs.
Other soil conservation measures employed in the Lake Tahoe Basin are the:
  • removal of excess land coverage followed by site restoration
  • implementation of Best Management Practices to minimize runoff and soil erosion
  • protection of native vegetation, and
  • revegetation of disturbed lands.