Local Pro Skier Killed in Avalanche
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE
Kyle Smaine, a professional skier from South Lake Tahoe, was killed in an avalanche in Japan on Jan. 29, aged 31, while free-ski backcountry skiing in the Nagano Prefecture. Smaine was on a work trip and had been looking forward to the “unbelievable snow quality,” as he wrote on Instagram. One other person died in the avalanche, while Smaine’s skiing partner was recovered unharmed.
Smaine won a gold medal in the halfpipe at the FIS Freestyle Ski and Snowboarding World Championships in Austria in 2015.
Placer County Receive High Number of Comments on Palisades EIR
Placer County received 2,686 comment letters about the Village at Palisades Specific Plan Revised Draft Environmental Impact Report by the Jan. 30 deadline. By comparison, the 2015 Village at Squaw Valley Specific Plan garnered 1,321 comments.
“It would be fair to state that the volume of comments was high,” wrote Placer County Supervising Planner Alex Fisch in an email to Moonshine. However, the majority of the comments were about the project itself rather than about the adequacy of the draft EIR, according to Fisch. Nevertheless, all comments are made part of the project record and are responded to in the final EIR.
As for next steps, county staff and the EIR environmental consultant, Ascent Environmental based in Sacramento, are processing and reviewing the comments in preparation for the final EIR, which will include written responses to all comments received. The final EIR will be prepared over the next several months. At this point, there is no schedule for when the project will be presented to the planning commission and subsequently to the board of supervisors. As information becomes available, updates will be posted to the project’s page on Placer County’s website: placer.ca.gov/2747/village-at-palisades-tahoe-specific-plan.
~ Melissa Siig/Special to Moonshine Ink
Tahoe Donner to Conduct Workforce Housing
In partnership with consulting firm Economic Planning Systems, Tahoe Donner is moving forward with a comprehensive workforce housing study in 2023 to better understand the scope of housing needs, preferences, opportunities, and more within the association. This study is a critical first step in devising a Housing Action Plan to alleviate hiring and employee retention issues caused by the lack of affordable housing in the area.
Tahoe Donner employs on average 900-plus year-round and seasonal employees to maintain its amenities, support operations, and provide a host of services to association members, their guests, and visitors to the area. Like other major employers in mountain resort communities, a high cost of living and a shortage of affordable housing is affecting the association’s ability to attract and retain employees. As one of the largest employers in Truckee, it behooves the association to develop a long-term and sustainable plan to address workforce housing.
The study, expected to commence in January, is projected to take between six and eight months to complete. In a multi-phase process, the study aims to:
- Determine the full scope of current and future workforce housing needs.
- Identify programs, partnerships, tools, or development concepts to help address these needs.
- Align housing needs and development concepts with potential site opportunities within Tahoe Donner.
- Integrate findings into the overall Housing Action Plan.
While a long-term solution will take some time, in the interim, Tahoe Donner staff has already taken steps to address housing issues including master leasing 10 to 12 houses to ensure many seasonal employees have access to reasonable rents. The association will also be engaging with other employers in the area to maximize additional year-long master leases, which can be significantly less expensive per month than traditional seasonal ski leases.
Concerted efforts such as these help to mitigate immediate workforce housing needs, but the study and the Housing Action Plan could offer a long-term solution with additional benefits for the greater community, like supporting a thriving year-round economy and promoting a more diverse demographic.
~ Tahoe Donner press release
Revised IVCBA Website Launched
The Incline Village Crystal Bay Business and Community Association announces the launch of its revised community website, ivcba.org.
With new interactive features, ivcba.org is the go-to website for everything related to Incline Village and Crystal Bay. This is the best source of what’s going on in the village.
- Community news blog, as submitted by community members and aggregated from agencies, local organizations, and regional news sources. It is a carefully curated list of all the local news to town. Submit news or features about what’s going on in the community.
- Community calendar is your best source of local events, all in one place. Submit your own events.
- The Weekly Snapshot Newsletter is an aggregation of what’s going on, sent directly to your inbox. Subscribe for free or join IVCBA as a community supporter for $50.
- The Local Lens is the personal blog of Linda Offerdahl, IVCBA’s executive director. She uses this blog to give her personal take on events and issues to highlight what’s going on locally.
- The IVCBA member directory has been expanded. Use this resource to find local nonprofits, agencies, businesses, places to eat, and more via category and direct links.
- LIVE.WORK.PLAY, our seasonal magazine, is IVCBA’s most widely read communication and is distributed in Incline Village and Crystal Bay. Published by Just Imagine Marketing, it is the only magazine dedicated to Incline Village and Crystal Bay residents, businesses, and community events.
- IVCBA social media. Follow on Instagram and on Facebook to stay up to date on the happenings in town.
Thanks to SDBX Studio for design and development of ivcba.org. To contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or (775) 833-5252.
~ IVCBA press release
Palisades Tahoe Sent Three Athletes to the Freeride Junior World Championship
Palisades Tahoe is proud to announce that, for the second year in a row, three athletes from the Palisades Snowboard Team qualified and were invited to compete in the Freeride Junior World Championships. Palisades Tahoe has participated in the FJWC for eight years and the snowboard team has repeatedly finished atop the podium. This year, Kaiya Hanepen took home a third place win.
The 2023 Freeride Junior World Championships returned to Kappl, Austria for the fourth year, taking place from Jan. 23 to Jan. 26. There, riders from around the world vied to become the Junior Freeride World Champion across four categories of competition: Women’s Ski, Men’s Ski, Women’s Snowboard, and Men’s Snowboard.
In order to hold the title of Junior Freeride World Champion, competitors were evaluated by a panel of seasoned freeride judges and scored across five main criteria: fluidity, control, line choice, technique, as well as air and style. Before the competition, athletes were allowed a visual inspection of the course only, no physical ride through or practice lines are allowed. The course was complete with a starting and finishing gate, but no further work was done to prepare the mountain. It was up to the competitors to pick their line and what features on the mountain they chose to face.
This year, Palisades Tahoe sent three athletes from the snowboard team to the FJWC: Kaiya Hanepen (F, 18), Mia Jones (F, 18), and Sam Briggs (M, 17). Invitations to the FJWC were based on high standings from last year’s North American Freeride Series. Before the FJWC, the athletes competed in a pre-championship event called the ARC 1950 Freeride World Tour Junior, where Kaiya won first place and Sam took second place. This year was the first time Mia and Sam competed at the FJWC and Kaiya’s third time in the competition.
~ Palisades Tahoe press release
Free Defensible Space Clearing Now Available to Eligible Renters and Property Owners
Time is running out for Nevada County residents to apply for the extended Access and Functional Needs Program that provides free defensible space clearing services within 100 feet of their homes. Hundreds of residents have qualified, and there is still room to serve over 500 more. Fire Safe Council of Nevada County and the Office of Emergency Services are pleased to announce that the program has been expanded to include renters with property owners’ permission.
This project is funded and managed in cooperation with the County of Nevada, California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, FEMA, United Way of Nevada County, and the Fire Safe Council of Nevada County. All work will be completed by Fire Safe Council crews. “Community collaboration is key to our success; hearing from applicants is the last piece of the puzzle to getting this work completed. We want to be sure everyone eligible knows about this service,” says Office Of Emergency Services Director Craig Griesback.
~ Nevada County Fire Safe Council press release
California Invests Nearly $1 Billion for Transportation Improvements
The California Transportation Commission has allocated over $988 million to repair and improve transportation infrastructure throughout the state. This funding includes more than $450 million from the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 and more than $250 million from Senate Bill 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017.
Projects the CTC approved include Interstate 80 near Floriston, Nevada County: $550,000 for Caltrans to develop a safety project to improve the pavement, repair drainage systems, upgrade guardrail and replace a damaged concrete barrier.
For more information visit rebuildingca.ca.gov.
~ Caltrans press release
Caltrans Seeks Rural, Tribal Volunteers for Latest Road Charge Study
Caltrans is recruiting volunteers who reside and travel in rural and tribal communities to participate in the latest testing phase of a road charge pilot. Up to 500 volunteers will participate in a seven-month simulated road charge system, which charges drivers based on the number of miles they travel rather than the amount of gas they use to support the state’s critical transportation infrastructure. There will be no cost to participate, and upon completion, volunteers will be eligible to receive an incentive of up to $250.
Starting in March 2023, the California Road Charge Public-Private Roads Project will explore the technical aspects of reporting mileage, as well as engage rural and tribal communities in a conversation about their communities’ priorities in a potential road charge system to fund road and highway maintenance.
As vehicles become more fuel-efficient and the state’s transition to zero-emission vehicles accelerates, Caltrans is researching possible alternatives to the state gas tax, which California has historically relied on to build and maintain the state’s transportation system.
Volunteers interested in participating in the pilot may visit caroadcharge.com and complete the participant recruitment survey. Participants must be California residents over the age of 18.
~ Caltrans press release
County Named Innovator for Connecting People in Jails with Mental Illness to Treatment
Nevada County was named as one of a select group of Stepping Up Innovator Counties in the U.S. for its expertise in data-driven efforts to keep people with mental illness out of jail and connected to treatment.
Since the Stepping Up initiative was launched in May 2015, more than 500 counties, including Nevada County, in 43 states, representing 40% of the U.S. population, have committed to the goal.
Nevada County joined Stepping Up in 2016 and has taken significant steps toward reducing the number of people in its jail who have mental illnesses, such as the creation of the Mobile Crisis Team to help de-escalate and connect community members to needed resources and treatment, mental health diversion count, and case management from behavioral health and the public defender’s office. Collaboration between Nevada County behavioral health, sheriff’s office, probation, district attorney, and public defender has been instrumental in the initiative.
Nevada County was chosen as one of a small group of innovator counties that are using the Stepping Up suggested three-step approach to collect and analyze timely data on the prevalence of people in their jails who have serious mental illnesses. These steps include establishing a shared SMI definition for their Stepping Up efforts across criminal justice and behavioral health systems, ensuring everyone booked into jail is screened for mental illnesses, and regular reporting on this population.
As an innovator county, Nevada County will help other counties improve their data collection efforts by participating in training sessions, taking part in presentations, sharing information and experiences through the Stepping Up website, and more. Learn more about Nevada County’s Stepping Up initiative at nevadacountyca.gov/steppingup.
~ Nevada County press release
Divers Responsible For Scuba Clean Up Of Lake Tahoe Share Plans For 2023
Following on the successful 72-mile clean-up of Lake Tahoe in 2022, the dive team that coordinated the effort is expanding its underwater clean-up plans in 2023. Clean Up The Lake, a nonprofit organization committed to fighting back against plastic and all forms of pollution both above and below the surface of its local waterways, will return to Lake Tahoe and nearby Fallen Leaf Lake, and also has plans to clean up Echo Lake, Boca and Stampede Reservoirs in Truckee, and four different lakes in Mono County and the Mammoth Lakes Basin.
The CUTL dive team is already back in the water in Lake Tahoe, with plans to revisit 40 different dive sites around the lake in 2023. Three separate Tahoe-based projects will take place, focused on deep dive litter accumulation studies at 35 and 70 feet and also looking into “terrain traps,” or how the lake’s bathymetry, wind, currents, and recreation affect litter accumulation trends throughout Lake Tahoe.
This year, CUTL will complete the circumnavigated clean-up of Fallen Leaf Lake that started in 2022 and produced some of the highest underwater litter totals in the Tahoe Basin. The organization will also launch pilot research on Boca and Stampede Reservoirs in Truckee and Echo Lake near South Lake Tahoe, and return to Mono County and the Mammoth Lakes Basin to execute various projects on four different lakes.
Last year, CUTL’s 72-mile clean-up effort in Lake Tahoe resulted in the removal of 25,282 pounds of small litter from the lake, while also GPS identifying 485 heavy lift objects slotted for future removal. This effort was just the beginning, as CUTL dive teams also removed an additional 25,000 pounds of debris from seven smaller lakes. One such lake was Donner Lake, where after their work this last year, over 13,000 pounds of litter has been removed.
~ Clean Up the Lake press release
Wildfires Are Burning California’s Snowy Landscapes, Colliding with Droughts to Shrink Snowpack
The early pandemic years overlapped with some of California’s worst wildfires on record. Some of the impacts of these fires are well known, including drastic declines in air quality, and now a new study shows how these wildfires combined with midwinter drought conditions to accelerate snowmelt.
In a study published Jan. 20 in Geophysical Research Letters, a Desert Research Institute-led research team examined what happens to mountain snowpacks when sunny, midwinter dry spells occur in forests impacted by severe wildfire. The researchers found a substantial increase in wildfires burning in California’s snowy landscapes throughout 2020 and 2021, when large blazes like the Dixie, Caldor, and Creek fires concentrated in snow zones. Using a 2013 midwinter dry spell as comparison, they found that similar weather in the winter of 2021/22 led to 50% less snow cover. The compounding impacts of wildfire on snow melt include an increase in sun exposure due to loss of forest canopy, and a reduction in the snow’s ability to reflect sunlight.
Satellite data showed that compared to the 2001 to 2019 average, 2020 and 2021 saw a nearly ten-fold increase in wildfires burning in California’s seasonal snow zones. A strong winter drought followed during the winter of 2021/22, when Tahoe City experienced a 46-day long midwinter dry spell. A comparable midwinter drought following a wet start to the winter occurred in 2013, giving the researchers the ability to compare and contrast the impacts under more typical conditions with those that occurred in a severely burnt landscape.
The enhanced snowmelt was so pronounced within the perimeter of the Caldor Fire that the researchers found a total of 50 fewer days with snow cover in the winter of 2021/22 — the lowest number of snow cover days on record.
The enhanced snowmelt midwinter creates challenges for forecasting water availability from the natural snowpack reservoir. During the winter months, water managers need to leave room in reservoirs to prevent flooding; this means that earlier snowmelt may not be captured for later use in the dry season. Studies like this provide water managers with the tools to make more accurate predictions of the timing and magnitude of snowmelt.
The researchers emphasize that the wildfire impacts seen in this study are the result of high-severity wildfires, and not lower-severity burns like prescribed fires.
~ DRI press release
Spring Lodging Offer Incentivizes Midweek Visitation
Visit Truckee-Tahoe announces the launch of the Sustainable Truckee – Midweek Spring Skiing Lodging Offer. By incentivizing midweek travel, Visit Truckee-Tahoe aims to help offset peak-period weekend traffic. The promotion also supports Truckee’s tourism-dependent businesses, funds stewardship projects, and raises awareness about sustainable best practices while visiting.
Visitors who book two or more nights of midweek lodging in Truckee between March 1 and April 30 are eligible to apply for a $100 Sustainable Truckee gift card to shop, dine, drink, and play at 56 Truckee businesses. The organization also matches 25% of card value for stewardship projects and promotes visitor awareness of sustainability actions to take in Truckee.
The offer is available to travelers who book lodging within Truckee town limits for midweek nights, Sunday through Thursday nights. Friday and Saturday nights are excluded from the offer. Guests can choose from Truckee’s 12 hotels and over 1,200 professionally and independently managed vacation rentals.
Sustainable Truckee gift cards are digital, community-based gift cards redeemable at 56 locations in Truckee: restaurants, breweries, grocery stores, retail shops, yoga/wellness studios, and outdoor guide companies. View the list of participating merchants at visittruckeetahoe.com/giftcard.
Aside from the Midweek Spring Skiing Lodging Offer, Sustainable Truckee gift cards are always available for purchase online, making great gifts for family, friends, teachers, employees, and coaches. For every card sold, Visit Truckee-Tahoe gives back to stewardship. In 2023, Visit Truckee-Tahoe is setting aside 25% of the total value for all cards sold, up to $12,500, for funding Sustainable Truckee programs and sponsorships that prioritize stewardship, community, and the environment. Learn more at visittruckeetahoe.com/programs.
~ Visit Truckee Tahoe press release
Nature For All at the Tahoe Institute of Natural Science
The Tahoe Institute of Natural Science is a member-supported nonprofit that aims to make the natural wonders of Lake Tahoe accessible to all people. Here’s a snapshot of just a few of the many events TINS offers throughout the year:
Each summer, TINS offers a wide variety of experiences for children ages 4 to 17, all across the Lake Tahoe region. Young campers can search the outdoors for hidden insects in our Bug Camp, while older campers can join backpacking trips.
A short and scenic hike through the forests of Tahoe Meadows that includes a discussion of winter ecology concepts and the survival strategies employed by animals in the Sierra Nevada. TINS regularly schedules a few for the public each winter, along with school field trips, and private guided outings.
Driving tours of Carson and Sierra valleys, which are fantastic places to view raptors of all kinds in winter. Rough-legged hawks that come down from the high arctic, ferruginous hawks from northern grasslands, and tons of red-tailed hawks take advantage of open fields full of rodents, and many eagles move into the area for calving season in January and February.
A guided, leisurely stroll around the Village Green and the surrounding woods in Incline Village, hosted every Thursday morning starting May through mid-June. Guides will identify the songs, calls, and field marks of birds that return or migrate through Tahoe in the spring. No registration required, and TINS can provide binoculars with advanced notice.
~ TINS press release
Moving In, Moving On, Moving Up
Tahoe Conservancy Board Elects Adam Acosta as its Chair
South Lake Tahoe
The California Tahoe Conservancy is proud to announce the election of Adam Acosta as its new board chair and Tamara Wallace as vice chair. Acosta is the first Latino to chair the conservancy board.
“I am honored to have been elected as the conservancy board chair,” said Acosta. “I look forward to continuing to work with my fellow board members and the conservancy staff. In addition to the important work of restoring and expanding equitable access to Tahoe’s natural resources, I’m excited by the conservancy’s increasing commitment to racial equity — a commitment that’s closely aligned with Gov. Newsom’s administration.”
The California State Assembly appointed Acosta to the conservancy board in 2017. Acosta serves as a senior policy advisor to the Los Angeles City Council. Previously, he was the assistant executive director for the California American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). During his 24-year career with AFSCME, he spearheaded the reform of public sector labor laws on behalf of municipal and county employees throughout the state of California.
Acosta was born and raised in Santa Barbara and graduated from San Diego State University. He is an avid outdoorsman who frequents the Eastern High Sierras with his two children, Adam and Isabela.
Wallace has served as the City of South Lake Tahoe’s representative to the conservancy board since 2020. A member of the South Lake Tahoe City Council, she is a past member of the city’s planning commission, past president of the Kiwanis Club of Lake Tahoe, and was the charter secretary for the Tulare Sunrise Rotary Club. She has managed several small businesses in South Lake Tahoe, is past executive vice president of the Tulare Chamber of Commerce, and the former executive director of the South Tahoe Chamber.
The conservancy thanks past board chair Sue Novasel and past vice-chair Cindy Gustafson for their service.
~ Conservancy press release
Tahoe National Forest Welcomes New Fire Management Officer
Tahoe National Forest is proud to welcome Kyle Jacobson as forest fire management officer. Jacobson most recently served as assistant fire management officer on the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.
“I have known Kyle for over a decade and am excited that he is joining our team,” said Tahoe National Forest Supervisor Eli Ilano. “This past summer, Kyle helped us all navigate through the Mosquito Fire in addition to leading our fire, fuels, and aviation programs. He brings a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and passion to the Tahoe [National Forest].”
Jacobson began his career on the Los Padres National Forest while completing his graduate education in forestry management. He also worked for the USFS Pacific Northwest Research Station studying fire behavior and fuels. Jacobson joins after spending the last 15 years on the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit in a variety of fire and fuels management roles.
Jacobson also serves as a member of California Interagency Incident Management Team 4 as a Type 1 Operations Section Chief.
Jacobson has been temporarily detailed in the forest fire management officer role on the Tahoe National Forest since July 2022 and succeeds Jason Withrow, who retired summer 2022.
~ Tahoe National Forest press release
Mountain Lion Aviation and Tahoe Fund Announce Partnership
The only local private aviation charter company in Lake Tahoe is joining forces with one of the region’s nonprofit organizations to help lower and sequester carbon emissions. Mountain Lion Aviation will donate money for every hour flown to the Tahoe Fund. These funds will support environmental improvement projects in the Tahoe Basin.
The Tahoe Fund will use these donations to support projects in three key focus areas that are directly tied to carbon reduction:
- Forest Health: Forest health projects reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire and its polluting emissions, and create a healthier forest better able to sequester carbon.
- Transportation: More public transportation reduces vehicle miles traveled and carbon emissions.
- Wetlands Restoration: Restoring watersheds has a number of benefits in Lake Tahoe such as improving lake clarity, reducing the prevalence of aquatic invasive species, mitigating fire and flood risk, increasing groundwater storage, strengthening habitat and ecological health, providing more opportunities for recreation, and critically, sequestering carbon.
Some of the projects that will benefit include: the Smartest Forest Fund, which supports innovative projects and new technology to improve forest health; TART Connect, which offers free, on-demand public transportation across the region; and the Greater Upper Truckee Watershed Restoration, the largest and most impaired watershed in the region. To learn more about the various programs funded by Tahoe Fund, visit: tahoefund.org
~ Mountain Lion Aviation press release
Jambar Partners With Olympic Gold Medalist Jonny Moseley
By partnering with Olympic Gold Medalist Jonny Moseley, JAMBAR announced an energy bar/athlete reunion nearly 20 years in the making. Jennifer Maxwell, the co-founder of the original PowerBar and now founder of organic energy bar JAMBAR, first worked with Moseley when he was a sponsored PowerBar athlete. As part of its push to fuel winter athletes and outdoor enthusiasts, JAMBAR has partnered with Moseley, a legendary skier, freestyle skiing analyst, and the face of California’s Palisades Tahoe.
To kick off the collaboration, Moseley created a series of Weekend Warrior Winter Workout exercise tips designed to help skiers, boarders, and fitness enthusiasts get and stay in shape during the winter season. These tips feature Moseley in his outdoor garage gym. He demonstrates some of his favorite exercises, including the Romanian Deadlift, which he calls “the most important exercise for skiers.”
Each JAMBAR packs 10 grams of protein, natural sweeteners, and premium ingredients. Certified organic JAMBARs include vegan and gluten-free options for everyone, and come in four flavors: Malt Nut Melody, Chocolate Cha Cha, Musical Mango, and Jammin’ Jazzleberry.
Jonny joins several JAMBAR athletes including pro cyclist and gravel rider Ali Tetrick and fellow K2 pro freestyle skier Ryan McElmon.
~ JAMBAR press release