Unified Command Training ‘First of Its Kind’ in Basin
On Wednesday, July 19, the parking lot at Palisades Tahoe was taken over for a unified command training for first responders. The training, hosted by Placer County Sheriff’s Office, Cal Fire, and the Placer County Office of Emergency Services, included scenarios such as a local fire, civil unrest, and Office of Emergency Services resource acquisition, and allowed participants a chance to practice protocols across agency lines before real emergencies. It was the first time such a formal event took place in the Tahoe Basin and was catered specifically to its geography.
“I’m a firm believer that the only way to get better in incident command is by actually doing it,” said Placer County Sheriff Wayne Woo to those gathered at the start of the training. “So, commit yourself when the real incidents happen; hone your craft. That’s what this training is here for today, to make sure you guys get those repetitions, learn in this training environment, and, more importantly, make some connections with people. Build that comradery so the first time you meet somebody from another agency or an allied agency is not at the back of a … firetruck during a critical incident.”
A unique aspect of emergency evacuation in eastern Placer is the ability for a more surgical approach than what’s presented via software like Zonehaven, which divides counties into zones based on potential evacuation routes unique to those areas. Placer’s approach breaks evacuations up into smaller sections. Cal Fire Battalion Chief Ryan Woessner gave an example of how this would work: “Say, for instance, there’s a fire in Tahoma … If you had Zonehaven, it’s gonna evacuate Tahoma and Tahoe City at the same time. Now, the Tahoe City people don’t really need to get out of the way yet, but the Tahoma people really need to get out of the way. So, surgically, we do Tahoma first, get them out, and then as the fire progresses, then we will tell Tahoe City to go another direction, and then we stagger the communities so it doesn’t create that bottleneck.”
This approach was underway on Wednesday — three different fire scenarios that would cause responders to hold traffic, utilize all lanes of roads, consider piecemeal evacuation, and more.
The county recently restructured its response to emergency management, including placing county, law, and fire responders in the same room to better understand cross-agency protocols. Woessner is the fire representative; Sergeant Ty Conners is the dedicated law enforcement rep out of the sheriff’s office. Such a move, Woessner said, is the first in the state. Woessner’s and Connors’ involvement in OES operations during emergencies shortens the timeframe of outputting information to the right parties.
Organizations and agencies on-site included El Dorado, Nevada, and Washoe County sheriff’s offices, North Tahoe Fire Protection District, North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, Truckee Police Department, Truckee CHP, Truckee Fire Protection District, Northstar Fire Protection District, Olympic Valley Fire Protection District, Cal Fire Truckee, Tahoe Basin Management Unit, Tahoe National Forest, Liberty Utilities, and others.
Placer County District 5 Supervisor Cindy Gustafson told Moonshine Ink she will ensure this training continues annually. “I will make sure the budget includes it,” she said.
League Opposes Amendments to Washoe County’s Area Plan
In June 2022, TRPA issued a development permit for a mixed-use (multi-family and commercial) development at 941 and 947 Tahoe Blvd. in Special Area 1 of the Incline Village Commercial Zone. The permitted project included 40 multi-family units and 925 square feet of commercial space in compliance with the Tahoe Area Plan implementing regulations. Following permit approval, the developer requested the conversion of the multi-family rental units into owner-occupied condominiums. This request could not be granted because single-family condominium uses are not permitted in Special Area 1.
The applicant requested an amendment to the Tahoe Area Plan/Development Code to add single-family condominiums as an allowed use in Special Area 1.
On Jan. 17, 2023, the Washoe County Board of County Commissioners adopted an amendment to Washoe County’s code which amended the code to add single family dwellings, limited to condominiums, as an allowable use in the Incline Village Commercial Special Area 1. The regulatory zone falls within Washoe County’s Tahoe Area Plan and TRPA has adopted Washoe County’s development code, article 220, as part of its adoption of the Tahoe Area Plan. Therefore, the amendment requires approval by the TRPA Governing Board to conform Washoe County’s development code amendment with TRPA’s adoption of the Tahoe Area Plan.
On June 28, the TRPA Governing Board adopted the county’s requested amendment to the area plan with mitigation measures in mind.
The League to Save Lake Tahoe, an organization dedicated to preserving the environmental health and scenic beauty of the Lake Tahoe Basin, has expressed its opposition to the amendments to Washoe County’s Tahoe Area Plan.
While the league does not object to the specific project in question, it raises concerns about the precedent set by amending area plans to accommodate individual developments that deviate from the 2012 Regional Plan Update and existing area plans. Instead, in a letter submitted on June 27, the league suggested analyzing and implementing code changes that align with the desired regional goals, rather than resorting to one-off amendments.
The league shared its appreciation that TRPA included mitigating measures as part of the approval process for the amendments. However, it firmly opposes project-level amendments to the Washoe County Tahoe Area Plan. TRPA defines an area plan as a comprehensive guide for community development, ecosystem restoration, transportation planning, and economic revitalization, emphasizing the importance of maintaining environmental standards. The league argued that incorporating a condominium project into the area plan contradicts its purpose and fails to meet the required standards.
In its letter, the league pledged to collaborate with TRPA on area plans and their amendments, aiming to identify solutions that align with the Regional Plan Update, the Bi-State Compact, and the overall intentions of these plans. It recommended that TRPA works closely with the Washoe County commissioners to identify both barriers and opportunities for developing a more comprehensive approach to future area plan amendments.
Changes Coming to Prevent Misuse and Abuse of Tahoe Beaches
Recent international news stories showed shocking images of volunteers and nonprofits removing thousands of pounds of litter from one Lake Tahoe beach following the July 4th holiday. The media coverage caused public outrage and drew widespread attention to the challenge of preventing litter at the iconic Sierra Nevada destination. Those same stories largely overlooked the good news: The vast majority of sites cleaned as part of the “Keep Tahoe Red, White, & Blue” July 5th Beach Cleanup, hosted annually by the League to Save Lake Tahoe, were far less impacted.
The League to Save Lake Tahoe and USDA Forest Service’s Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit are working both independently and collaboratively to stop the scenes of July 5th from happening again. To better serve the public and protect natural resources, the Forest Service announced that Zephyr Shoals will be managed by a concession beginning this fall for the first time, similar to other developed National Forest sites around the Tahoe Basin. With a concessionaire managing day-to-day operations under a permit with the Forest Service, the public will continue to have access, but can expect changes like managed parking, enhanced trash management, signage, sanitation services, and staffing.
Working in partnership, the League to Save Lake Tahoe, Forest Service and other stakeholders are going further to raise the bar for beach management across the Tahoe Basin. The organizations have made a multi-year commitment to “Tahoe Blue Beaches,” a new model that centers around education, engineering, and enforcement.
The use of innovative technologies and techniques, including the BEBOT beach-cleaning robot, brought to Tahoe by the League and ECO-CLEAN Solutions, will complement other improvements. Taken together, this elevated management will define what it means to be called a “Tahoe Blue Beach,” a place where the environment is respected, protected, and enjoyed. The League will publicly recognize beaches and businesses that take these extra steps to Keep Tahoe Blue for the future.
~ League to Save Lake Tahoe press release
Friends Don’t Let Friends Block Trails
Starting this week, trail users on the popular multi-use Legacy Trail in Truckee will find new messages stenciled in chalk along the path. From educational “share the path” and “keep right” reminders, to more tongue-in-cheek messages like “friends don’t let friends block trails” and “it’s okay to be shy, but if you’re about to pass, say hi,” the goal of the new Take Care Tahoe campaign is to reduce trail user conflicts and collisions on paved paths in the region. The two biggest issues are large groups blocking the entire trail by walking side-by-side, and bikes going too fast around pedestrians.
“The town is happy to be partnering with Take Care Tahoe on this pilot initiative. As the popularity of our trail system continues to grow, reminders of trail etiquette are becoming more important,” said Jen Callaway, Truckee town manager. “We have heard from our community there is a need to deter user conflicts and accidents on trails. With this campaign and fun messaging, we will be able to see how effective this type of signage and communication can be to remind everyone how to use our trails.”
The campaign will launch with an initial list of 20 messages that include straightforward instructions, funny reminders, and Spanish-language messages. The public will be encouraged to share their feedback and new message ideas on Take Care Tahoe’s website and social media channels. Any new message ideas that are submitted have the potential to become new stencils.
In addition to the Legacy Trail, the campaign will be introduced on the Trout Creek Trail in Truckee once construction is completed. In the future, it may also be expanded to other regional multi-use paved trails.
Learn more about the trail etiquette campaign at takecaretahoe.org.
~Take Care Tahoe press release
Former Bay Area Resident Pleads Guilty to Arson in the Lake Tahoe Area
Douglas Gregory Edwards, 37, formerly of Berkeley, pleaded guilty to setting fire to federal land in the Lake Tahoe area, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court documents, on July 5, 2020, Edwards set three separate fires in the forest and near hiking trails in a protected area of federal land known as the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. At the time of the fires, campfires were restricted, and smoking was prohibited except inside of a vehicle or other designated areas.
The Echo Fire
Edwards set the first fire at approximately 3 a.m. on a slope near Echo Lake. A witness saw Edwards at the site of the Echo Fire watching an 8-foot dead tree burning but taking no steps to extinguish the fire. After firefighters extinguished the fire, investigators found a cigarette butt directly above the ignition site.
The Upper Fire
The second fire ignited shortly after 9 a.m. less than a mile downhill from the site of Edwards’s first fire. Investigators found two cigarette butts near the ignition site of this second fire, and DNA analysis of those cigarette butts connected them to Edwards.
The Lake Fire
The third fire ignited around noon in the same general vicinity, near a hiking path that provides access to the Pacific Crest Trail. The witnesses observed Edwards smoking a cigarette and holding a cigarette lighter. Law enforcement agents subsequently arrested Edwards in the afternoon as he was hiking approximately a quarter of a mile away from the ignition sites of each of the three fires.
This case is the product of an investigation by the U.S. Forest Service. The California Highway Patrol, the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office, and the California Department of Justice’s Bureau of Forensic Science provided assistance. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sam Stefanki is prosecuting the case.
Edwards is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Dale A. Drozd on Oct. 24, 2023. Edwards faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
~ U.S. Department of Justice press release
18th Annual Tahoe Bike Month Draws Record Participants
With a record number of participants this year, the 18th annual Tahoe Bike Challenge got more people than ever out of their cars to help improve Lake Tahoe’s environment and communities, according to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) and the Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition who again teamed up to organize the Basin-wide celebration through the month of June.
Additional bike, pedestrian, and transit improvements in the Tahoe region come forward every year to help reduce reliance on the private automobile, increase safety, and improve Lake Tahoe’s air and water quality. Bike Month encourages more people to take advantage of the improvements and builds support for transportation and maintenance projects. Participants also track their rides, which creates a fun competition to see which individuals and teams can record the most rides.
Here is the recap:
A record 450 Tahoe residents and visitors signed up online, and even more participated in bike-friendly events throughout the month. Tahoe Bike Month participants made a combined 7,109 bike trips, racking up 52,789 miles and 3,749,683 vertical feet of elevation.
Participants logged their trips and miles at tahoebikemonth.org during the month-long competition and were entered in weekly raffles for prizes donated by local businesses around the lake. Participants also competed for prizes, and glory, by recording the most rides, miles, elevation gain, biggest ride, and for riding every day in June, according to the organizers. Leaderboards can be viewed at tahoebike.org/bike-month-leaderboard.
TRPA and its partners maintain a website dedicated to information about getting around Tahoe without driving at linkingtahoe.com. An interactive bike map can be found at map.tahoebike.org and paper maps are available at bike shops and visitor centers throughout Tahoe and Truckee.
The Tahoe Bike Challenge will return in June 2024.
~TRPA press release
State Route 89/Interstate 80 Ramp Closure
Caltrans is alerting motorists in Truckee to a closure of the eastbound Interstate 80 on-ramp from State Route 89 through mid-August, for ongoing roadway improvements.
To access eastbound I-80, motorists can take a detour along westbound Donner Pass Road to the eastbound I-80 on-ramp.
The construction is part of a $30.6-million project to rehabilitate the existing concrete on I-80 in Truckee, install a westbound auxiliary lane from the SR-89 south on-ramp to the Donner Pass Road off-ramp, install eastbound acceleration lanes from the Donner Pass Road on-ramp to the SR-89 south on-ramp, improve drainage, and upgrade concrete walkways along ramps to meet current Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
Teichert Construction of Rocklin is the prime contractor for the project, which is scheduled to be completed this fall. The construction schedule is subject to change based on weather, equipment or material availability, or other unexpected events.
The department will issue construction updates on Twitter @CaltransDist3, on Facebook at CaltransDistrict3, and on the Caltrans District 3 website. For real-time traffic, click on Caltrans’ QuickMap quickmap.dot.ca.gov or download the QuickMap app from the App Store or Google Play.
~ Caltrans press release
SNOW Museum and Community Cultural Center Draft EIR Released
Placer County has released for public review a draft environmental impact report for the SNOW Museum and Community Cultural Center.
The proposed project would include construction of a museum and cultural center celebrating the 1960 Winter Olympics and the history of winter sports in the Sierra Nevada. The facility would include a two-story building up to 20,000 square feet with a maximum height of 30 feet, as well as outdoor gathering spaces and amenities.
The Museum of Olympic and Sierra Nevada Ski History would commemorate the events of the 1960 Winter Olympic Games held in Olympic Valley and Lake Tahoe and the ensuing effects on regional and western ski history. The museum would also document the ski history of the Sierra Nevada region beginning with the Washoe Tribe to 19th-century gold miners, to members of the U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division, to current World Cup athletes.
A cultural community center would offer education and awareness programs in history, culture, sports innovation and environmental stewardship. The building would include event space for exhibits, films, educational and recreational classes, conferences, lectures, community events, and small private celebrations. A visitor center would be included as part of the building and would be operated in partnership with Placer County and the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association. A small café and museum shop, ancillary to the museum, community cultural center, and visitor center would be provided.
The draft EIR is now available for public review during normal business hours at the Tahoe City and Truckee libraries, the Placer County Community Development Resource Agency offices in Auburn and Tahoe City, and the Placer County Clerk-Recorder’s Office. It is also available online here.
The Placer County Planning Commission will hear public comments on the draft EIR at a public meeting Thursday, Aug. 10, at the North Tahoe Event Center, located at 8318 North Lake Blvd. in Kings Beach. The meeting will begin at 10 a.m. and will be streamed virtually via Zoom.
Written public comments will be accepted through 5 p.m. Aug. 23.
The planning commission and board of supervisors will be asked to consider the project and certification of the EIR at a future date(s).
~ Placer County press release
A Bit About Trash
Many of you have seen the news coverage of the July 4 trash issues on a USFS beach in Zephyr Shoals. It was a horrible incident and is a reminder of the importance of the public services needed to protect our environment. Fortunately we didn’t experience a situation of that magnitude in Placer County. That is due in large part to the coordination, cooperation, and dedication of multiple agencies serving our beaches and public parks. In addition to contracts with North Tahoe Public Utility District and Tahoe City PUD, the county contracts with Clean Tahoe to provide supplemental trash service in-between regularly scheduled servicing from Tahoe Truckee Sierra Disposal. We have also deployed additional dumpsters in high traffic areas where trash has regularly exceeded capacity.
More work needs to be done to expand our stewardship messaging, our trash infrastructure, and our enforcement and we need your help! We encourage you to assist by reporting overflowing trash cans, dumpsters, and or other trash locations. Please see below for more detailed information on reporting:
- In Kings Beach and Tahoe City, Placer County contracts with Clean Tahoe to manage litter and overflowing public trash cans. You can report illegal dumping or overflowing trash cans using their online form, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (530) 544-4210. They will dispatch a worker to pick up the items or empty the public trashcan within 24 hours. If reports made to Clean Tahoe are outside their scope, they pass the information on to Environmental Health who directs the information to the appropriate entity.
- Within the Tahoe National Forest, you can report overflowing or damaged trash cans to the local ranger district office and they will pass the report to their appropriate maintenance crew who will address the issue. Phone numbers for the ranger district offices can be found here.
- In the State Park Recreation areas, you can make reports to the onsite ranger’s station, usually located near the parking lot.
- In all other parts of Placer County, you can submit a complaint about illegal dumping to the Environmental Health Department using their online complaint form. If the illegal dumping occurs in public right-of-way, then DPW Roads crew to remove the waste, otherwise the report is passed to the appropriate entity.
~ Eastern Placer County enews
Lahontan Community Foundation Awards 24 Grants
The Lahontan Community Foundation recently awarded $227,991 in grants to 24 nonprofits serving the greater Truckee/North Lake Tahoe region, including the Boys and Girls Club, the Humane Society, Sierra Community House, Sierra Senior Services, and Gateway Mountain Services to name a few.
The majority of grants were for health and human services, followed closely by education and youth development in our area. These grants will help to ensure that seniors have food security, kids are mentored and tutored, mental health services continue, trails are maintained, veterinary services are provided, the disabled have medical services and activities, and children have access to music and the outdoors.
“Our giving has expanded dramatically in the past five years, but so has the number of deserving grant applicants,” said Janet Lowell, LCF president. “This year we had more applicants than in the past. Our goal is to positively impact the community with targeted giving to nonprofits doing vital work.”
Since its inception in 2002, the LCF has raised over $2.5 million in support of the Truckee and North Lake Tahoe community. The LCF holds fundraising events throughout the summer as well as a direct campaign in the fall.
The Lahontan Community Foundation Fund is a committee-advised fund held at The Parasol Tahoe Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. A full list of the grantees can be found at lahontangolf.com. If interested in learning more about the LCF, please contact LCF president Janet Lowell at email@example.com.
~ Lahontan Community Foundation press release
Kate McLaughlin and Ian Lopez de San Roman Win the Stages Cycling Tahoe Trail 100 MTB
The Leadville Race Series Stages Cycling Tahoe Trail, owned and produced by Life Time, took place this past Saturday at the world-class Northstar Resort. Straddling the borders of Nevada and California, the race brought more than 700 riders to the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains.
The Stages Cycling Tahoe Trail MTB offers two race distances — either one or two loops around a 50-kilometer course, with the 100k race challenging riders with 6,000-plus feet of elevation gain. The course finishes at the Overlook area of Northstar Village with the Finish Festival, offering plenty of food, music, beverages from Best Day Brewing, and fun for the whole family.
“Northern California witnessed an incredible showcase of dedication and passion for mountain biking this weekend,” said Ryan Cross, senior marketing manager, Life Time Events & Media. “Despite the scorching temperatures, our racers exhibited unwavering commitment and gave it their all in the majestic terrain of Tahoe. We’re thrilled to have witnessed such an amazing event and can’t wait until 2024!”
The next bike event on the Life Time off-road event calendar is the Stages Cycling Leadville Stage Race happening July 28 through 30. The Stages Cycling Leadville Trail 100 MTB, the fourth event in the Life Time Grand Prix Series presented by Mazda, will take place on Aug. 12. The final bike event on the Leadville Race Series calendar is the Life Time Austin Rattler presented by La Sportiva, which will take place on Nov. 4 in Texas.
To view all of the Life Time athletic events, including their off-road cycling events, please visit my.lifetime.life/athletic-events.
~Leadville Race Series press release
Hike and Help Our Forests Thrive
Forests are naturally resilient to the threat of wildfires, invasive species, and disease outbreaks. However, climate change is increasing the severity and frequency of these disturbances, exacerbating disease and insect outbreaks, and putting forest regeneration at risk. Seed collection from wild, native trees is essential to replanting and reforestation.
Adventure Scientists’ Reforestation: Western U.S. project sends volunteers into national forests to survey conifer species for cone production. Its partner, Mast Reforestation, is seeking location and cone abundance data to inform their follow-up conifer seed collection and reforestation efforts. Mast Reforestation aims to build an accessible seed bank for the conifer forests of the Western U.S. suited for the anticipated seed migration needs of the changing climate.
Due to the limited monitoring season (data must be collected and submitted by mid-August), Adventure Scientists is actively recruiting volunteers in California to venture into the following national forests: Stanislaus, Eldorado, Sierra, Plumas, Tahoe, Inyo, Sequoia, Lassen, and Modoc. This project offers flexible weekend or evening opportunities to collect data and only requires a pair of binoculars and a smartphone. Volunteers on the project will gain observation skills and applied experience in the field of natural science. The website offers more information on the project and how to sign up: Reforestation: Western U.S.
“I have volunteered for Adventure Scientists on numerous projects, and I really enjoy being able to give back while also being outdoors,” says Pam Hoult, from the Bay Area and a current volunteer with the Reforestation: Western US project. “The reforestation project is fun and easy, and working with adventure scientists gives us the impetus to explore new places as well as our tried and trusted favorites.”
~ Adventure Scientist press release
Slow Food Lake Tahoe Brings Back the Salmon Buying Club
Slow Food Lake Tahoe, a local chapter of the international Slow Food movement, is thrilled to announce the return of its highly anticipated Salmon Buying Club — a fundraiser in partnership with Eskimo Girl Salmon. This exciting collaboration aims to expand access to sustainable food choices by bringing high-quality, wild caught Alaskan salmon directly to the Tahoe/Truckee community. Enjoy the best protein on the planet with a significant club discount. Order a 20-pound box of filets ($14.99/lb) or portions ($15.99/lb) for your own freezer, or share with a friend. Ordering closes on Sept. 15 boxes will be available for pick up in the Truckee River Regional Park on Sept. 30. To find out more or order your box, visit slowfoodlaketahoe.org/salmon-buying-club.
As a fundraiser, nonprofit SFLT will receive a portion of the proceeds to help support the future of its community programs including the Food Bank Garden, which provides free education on high elevation edible gardens and grows organic produce for Sierra Community House’s hunger relief program. And an additional amount will go towards a donation of salmon portions to Sierra Community House’s hunger relief program.
Fisherwoman Casey Coupchiak, founder of Eskimo Girl Salmon and Yupik Eskimo from the village of Togiak, Alaska, works her family fishing boat in the pristine waters of Bristol Bay, Alaska. She shares Slow Food Lake Tahoe’s commitment to quality and sustainability. Her self-caught wild salmon is sourced through responsible fishing practices, ensuring the health of marine ecosystems while delivering a product of exceptional taste and nutritional value.
By bringing back the Salmon Buying Club, the organization takes another significant step toward its mission of connecting our community to the enjoyment of food and educating about ways to access sustainable options.
~ Slow Food Lake Tahoe press release
NV Energy Plans to Retire Final Coal Generation Plant, Advance Additional Renewable Energy Projects
NV Energy released details of the fifth amendment to the company’s 2021 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). The company will file the amendment with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PUCN) for consideration at the end of the month. The amendment advances the company’s commitment to retire its final coal generation plant by the end of 2025 and proposes new in-state renewable resources to improve reliability and resource adequacy for customers.
The amendment includes converting the existing coal-fueled plant at the North Valmy Generating Station — the lone coal plant in NV Energy’s portfolio — to a cleaner natural gas-fueled plant.
The North Valmy Generating Station, located in northern Nevada near Battle Mountain, is a critical generating plant that is necessary to provide reliable power for northern Nevada customers. Refueling the North Valmy Generating Station with natural gas allows NV Energy to reduce carbon emissions by almost 50% through the elimination of coal while ensuring the company has a facility in that part of the state that can operate around the clock to meet the energy needs of our customers.
Additionally, the amendment includes the purchase, installation and operation of a company-owned 400 megawatt solar plant along with a 400 megawatt, four-hour battery storage system in Northern Nevada. The solar facility and associated storage will provide critical renewable generation to offset the loss of other renewable energy projects that are now not being developed.
NV Energy is seeking approval for additional transmission infrastructure to support continued growth in the state, including in the Apex area in the city of North Las Vegas.
NV Energy evaluated multiple resource options as part of its planning process to address the energy needs of Nevada in a cost-effective and sustainable way. This amendment ensures NV Energy remains well on track to meet the state’s renewable portfolio requirement of 50 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050 while ensuring customers have safe, affordable and reliable power year-round.
~ NV Energy press release