The Lake Tahoe Basin provides environmental conditions and habitats facorable to a diversere array of species. At least 289 species of terrestial and semi-terrestrial vertegrates are found in the Lake Tahoe Basin as residents or regular visitors, including 217 birds, 59 mammals, five amphibians, and eight reptiles (Murphy and Knopp 2000). An additional 57 terrestrial species have been recorded in the basin as accidental visitors or as species that no longer occur in the basin (Murphy and Knopp 2000).
The concept of “habitat” is a species-specific construct that relates to the extent to which an area provides a suitable environment (e.g. food, cover, water, etc.) for the species to survive and reproduce. Understanding the relationship between wildlife and habitat, the processes that create habitat, and the life history requirements of a wide diversity of wildlife species is at the heart of sound wildlife planning and management. In addition to physical attributes of the landscape, factors such as predators, parasites, competitors, and disease all influence the suitability of an area as habitat for a species and the overall population of the species. Human disturbances such as development, hunting, or recreational use can also influence the suitability of an area for individual species.
In recognition of the importance of wildlife to the Lake Tahoe Basin, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) established in Resolution 82-11 the adopted environmental threshold standards for wildlife.
There are two indicator reporting categories in wildlife threshold category: 1) special interest species, and 2) habitats of special significance (Table 8-1). TRPA has adopted 16 threshold standards for the two indicator reporting categories. The following summarizes standards by indicator reporting category for the wildlife threshold category.
In order to attain and maintain the wildlife thresholds, the wildlife conservation sub-element of the TRPA Regional Plan identifies two goals and six policy statements relative to maintaining wildlife. The goals are:
Maintain suitable habitats for all indigenous species of wildlife without preference to game or non-game species through maintenance and improvement of habitat diversity; and
The six policies identified to achieve these goals are:
These goals and policies are supported by TRPA's Code of Ordinances which provides more specific provisions pertaining to the protection of sensitive wildlife species and their habitats.