Tahoe and Vicinity September 26, 2022

Biodiversity In Tahoe

Recent research has proved that spending time outdoors can help people decrease their physical signs of stress, and can even boost a person’s mood.

It’s also been shown that life satisfaction is increased for anyone living in an environment with high biodiversity. 

People crave contact with the natural world. We humans find a tranquility in places with a variety of plants and animals. We actively seek contact with natural landscapes, oceans and the wilderness, which suggests that we may derive health benefits from them.

The World Health Organization is collaborating with the Convention on Biological Diversity to promote awareness of how the earth’s biodiversity has a direct influence on human health, both physical and mental.

Biodiversity conservation is high on the list of the Tahoe basin’s conservation organizations.

There are a good many fish swimming in our Lake. Most aren’t native to these waters because of deliberate game fish stocking, and leaving little room for natives. Inadvertent introductions, such as aquarium dumping, can also have an unwanted effect on Lake waters. In 2013, 4 pound, over 14 inch long goldfish was removed from Lake Tahoe. It’s thought that there are more of them under the surface.

Fortunately, though, with the help of the U.S. Forest Service, the original Tahoe fish, the Lahonton trout is making a comeback.

Sometimes overlooked when considering biodiversity is soil. Tahoe has a variety of soils, from ordinary sandy to rich, and organic. Soil has two important jobs in Tahoe. The first is infiltration, a process where absorbing rain and snowmelt are absorbed. This prevents runoff from accumulating or gaining speed, both of which cause erosion. Soil’s second job is capturing and filtering nutrients and pollutants, instead of allowing them to flow along surfaces, and collecting in streams or the Lake.

When water permeates the soil, plants flourish by soaking up the water and nutrients. The estimated 17 million diverse trees growing in the Tahoe Basin surely appreciate that.

Wherever there is a tree, there is a bird to perch in it. With over 300 different species of birds recorded as living in the Tahoe basin, some kind of singing, chirping or hunting bird is always close at hand. 

In between those trees, in the sunshine, this basin is home to over 300 varieties of wild flowers. From the wild roses, to the lupines, to the goldenrods, something is blooming, or just about to, all summer long. 

But is there anything besides people to appreciate those flowers? Tahoe’s busy bees certainly do, as do butterflies, and our spectacular hummingbird moths. 

No doubt the shrinking populations of our four-legged Tahoe companions, such as bears, coyotes, beavers, bobcats, and deer, is due to an increased human population, as well as forest fires, and climate change. We can count ourselves fortunate if we manage to catch sight any of these animals. Once, long ago, this writer spied a fully antlered mule deer posing in the middle of a sunny meadow that was packed with multicolored wild flowers tall enough to tickle his shiny black nose. That picture has never faded.

Biodiversity?  Let’s take care of it, because it always takes good care of us…one way or another.