INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. (News 4 & FOX 11) — Wildfire is a constant threat to the Tahoe way of life, and brilliant minds of Silicon Valley are finding ways through science and technology to try and save Tahoe forests.
The latest development is a cloud-based adaptive land management and monitoring system called Land Tender, built by a public benefit corporation, Vibrant Planet.
The powerful new software uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and satellite technology to map out forests, identify potential hazards and outline high priority areas to treat and restore areas of Tahoe's forests.
The software will cover 1.5 million acres of the Tahoe Basin, which is their largest deployment to date. The goal is for Land Tender to be used by public and private land owners in a collaborative effort to get back to a more natural forest structure that can make it through climate change and wildfire.
"The faster we can restore forest resilience, the more we can benefit from the ecological benefits that the forest resilience provides us," said Allison Wolff, CEO of Vibrant Planet.
Wolff says a major part of reaching forest resilience is having fewer trees in Tahoe forests.
"There are about 24 million trees in the Basin. That's about 12 million trees too many for ecological sustainability," she said.
Amy Berry, CEO of Tahoe Fund is working with Vibrant Planet to deploy Land Tender. She explains why its vital to treat Tahoe forests with land management techniques such as prescribed burns and clearing out smaller trees.
"What happens when a wildfire comes through and it hits that wall of trees... it's basically hitting a wall of fuel and the fire just goes straight up to the top of the trees and its called crowning and it creates these megafires that we are seeing all over the West right now," said Berry.
Land Tender can measure ecological benefit as far as 30 years out and compare different projections depending on what land management treatments are implemented.
Wolff says by building a more natural forest structure, Tahoe Forests will be able to make it through climate change.
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