AlertTahoe is a challenge to the greater Tahoe community -- its residents, visitors, leaders, and the business community -- for continued investment in the expansion of a one-of-a-kind fire camera system that is built upon an emergency information platform already in use for earthquake monitoring and response.
An expanding prototype of the fire camera system is functioning, scoring early successes during the summer of 2014, and significant impact in 2015, including discovery and early intel during the "dry" lightening storm on June 27th, 2015. Nine basin fires were impacted by the AlertTahoe system in its expansion phase during 2014 and 2015. This includes a handful of fire discoveries. This success is mirrored by BLM's Nevada Fire Camera program in central and eastern Nevada. In the early summer of 2016, these two systems have been involved in over 25 fires, mostly east of Lake Tahoe. Visit nvseismolab on YouTube for more details and footage.
The Nevada Seismological Laboratory launched the AlertTahoe campaign in 2015 to raise $2M dollars to place a total of ~30 cameras throughout the region (13 exist, 8 more are being installed in July/Oct., 2016, 9 in 2017), along with associated telemetry infrastructure, and a user-friendly web portal for use by emergency response personnel and the interested public. This combined effort will take approximately 2-3 years to build out and operational costs over the next decade have been included in the target goal. The urgency of this project is only heightened by a prolonged drought, bark beetle die-off, and recent firestorms such as the Rim, King and Valley fires. The Valley and Butte Fires (2016) cost $1.5 and $0.5 Billion, respectively, to fight and immediate economic losses. The total 10 year cost of this fully expanded system is 1.25% of losses incurred during the 2007 Angora Ridge fire; this significant Tahoe fire covered by area only 1% and 3%, respectively, of the nearby devastating fires in 2013 and 2014. The overall economic footprint of the Angora Ridge Fire is thought to exceed $1B. Alternative funding will be used to support adoption of earthquake early warning (EEW) and monitoring of extreme weather events such as summer thunderstorms and atmospheric rivers (i.e., ARkstorms) using this system.
Partners in the AlertTahoe program include: Tahoe Prosperity Center, US Forest Service (Eldorado Forest, LTBMU and Tahoe Forest), Homewood Mountain Ski Resort, Vail Heavenly Mountain Resort, Diamond Peak Ski Resort, Sierra at Tahoe Ski Resort, Sugar Bowl, California Tahoe Conservancy, UC Berkeley-Sagehen, UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, CalFire, Nevada DEM, NAASIC, and many private supporters. It should be noted that the Tahoe Prosperity Center has been critical in fundraising for cameras, including 4 thus far, with 3 more targeted for the summer of 2016 (Fallen Leaf Lake, Mt. Rose Ski Resort and D. L. Bliss State Park)
Funding received through this Fire Camera program will be invested directly in the AlertTahoe footprint. Tax deductible gifts may be made online through the UNR Foundation, or through the Tahoe Prosperity Center.
The AlertTahoe project began as a joint project between the Nevada Seismological Laboratory and the Forest Guard team, a group of young students from Meadow Vista, California; the Forest Guards won the Innovate Award at the Children's Climate Action in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2009. Their idea was to seed the forest with cameras that were connected wirelessly to enable early wildfire detection. Their most innovative contribution was the added ingredient of social media to engage the larger public to stand guard over the forest, or "Forest Guard". Their team leader, Heidi Buck, and 6 young adults joined together with the seismology lab and Sony Europe to place a prototype system in place in 2010.
Some 6 years later, the 2nd generation of this system has been installed around the greater Lake Tahoe region, scoring early succeses in its first two years. The public now has access to this expanding system making their dream of a socially engaged public in the fight against wildfire come true.