Although Lake Tahoe does not lie within any National Forest it is almost surrounded by the Tahoe and El Dorado Forests. There are a few miles of shore-line on the Nevada side in the vicinity of Glenbrook which are not within the National Forest Boundary.
The gross area of the Tahoe National Forest is 1,272,470 acres. Of this amount, however, 692,677 acres are privately owned. The El Dorado National Forest has a gross area of 836,200 acres with 284,798 of them in private hands. These privately owned lands are technically spoken of as “alienated lands.”
The towns of Truckee, Emigrant Gap, Cisco, Donner, Fulda, Downieville, Sierra City, Alleghany, Forest, Graniteville, Goodyear’s Bar, and Last Chance, as well as Tahoe City, are all within the Tahoe National Forest.
It is estimated that there are probably 350 people living on the Forest outside of the towns. These are principally miners or small ranch-owners living along the rivers in the lower altitudes.
Slowly but surely the people are awakening to the great value of the natural resources that are being conserved in the National Forests. In the Tahoe Reserve the preservation of the forest cover is essential to the holding of snow and rain-fall, preventing rapid run-off, thereby conserving much of what would be waste and destructive flood-water, until it can be used for irrigation and other beneficial purposes.
Many streams of great power possibilities rise and flow through the Tahoe Forest Reserve, such as the Truckee, Little Truckee, Yuba and American rivers. Working in conjunction with the U.S. Reclamation Service the Truckee General Electric Company uses the water that flows out of Lake Tahoe down the Truckee River for the development of power. The Pacific Gas and Electric Company, of San Francisco, controls the waters of the South Yuba river, and its Colgate plant is on the main Yuba, though it obtains some of its water supply from the North Yuba. Lake Spaulding, one of the largest artificial lakes in the world, is a creation of this same company. It is situated near Emigrant Gap and is used for the development of power.
The Northern Water and Power Company controls the Bowman reservoir and a string of lakes on the headwaters of Canyon Creek, a branch of the South Yuba river. As yet its power possibilities are not developed.
Through the activities of these companies electricity and water for irrigation are supplied to towns and country regions contiguous to their lines, and they have materially aided in the development of the Sacramento Valley.