SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – The public is invited to join members of the League to Save Lake Tahoe, the Tahoe Yellow Cress Adaptive Management Working Group and the USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) for a Tahoe Forest Stewardship Day at Baldwin Beach on June 22, from 8:30 a.m. until 12 p.m. Volunteers will work to construct habitat enclosures for endangered Tahoe yellow cress (TYC). The LTBMU will also host a TYC informational booth at the Native Species’ Festival on the same day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at nearby Taylor Creek Visitor Center.
TYC (Rorippa subumbellata) is a rare plant that occurs on the shoreline of Lake Tahoe in California and Nevada. TYC exists nowhere else in the world and is endangered in both California and Nevada. In 1999, after a period of sustained high lake levels in which suitable beach habitat was inundated, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) added TYC to the candidate list for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. In response, a stakeholder task force of public and private interest groups was formed to develop a Conservation Strategy to promote the recovery of TYC. The collaborative taskforce, Tahoe Yellow Cress Adaptive Management Working Group (TYC AMWG), has been meeting quarterly since 2002 to manage TYC and to develop tools for avoiding, minimizing, and mitigating impacts to TYC and its habitat on public and private lands.
USFWS removed TYC from the candidate list in October 2015, citing the success of the TYC Conservation Strategy and the long-term, proactive and collaborative conservation actions demonstrated by partner organizations, to significantly reduce threats to TYC.
In 2019, efforts for TYC conservation will focus on mitigation of the increased threat of sustained high lake levels. Sustained high lake levels are known to reduce TYC populations, as beaches are inundated by the rising lake, in conjunction with concentrated beach use. Under these conditions, TYC is more likely to get trampled. A lake-wide survey conducted in 2017 reported a decline in TYC with only 43 percent of surveyed sites occupied, compared to 80 percent in 2016, when the lake was several feet lower. In 2019, the lake level is expected to remain high throughout the summer.
TYC will benefit from increased public outreach efforts, including TYC planting and education, sharing information about fenced enclosures and the importance of keeping pets out of these areas and communicating the importance of avoiding walking/trampling on low growing plants which may be TYC, on beaches and near creek mouths. Other conservation actions for TYC, as consistent with the 2015 Conservation Strategy, include outreach and communication to the non-motorized paddle and boat community to reduce the risk of TYC trampling in popular boating spots, fencing of known populations and seed collection for propagation and preparation for future planting. Quarterly meetings of the conservation strategy partners will continue and the group will conduct a lake-wide survey for TYC the first week of September.
For more detailed information on Tahoe yellow cress, visit the following websites: www.tahoeyellowcress.org, http://www.tloa.net/issues/tahoe-yellow-cress-removed-endangered-species-list/, and https://monitoring.laketahoeinfo.org/YellowCress.
**Photo caption: Volunteers plant Tahoe Yellow Cress last year at Baldwin Beach.
Photo credit: Lisa Herron, USDA Forest Service.