News Briefs

Bill Restricting State Park Burning Advances in State Assembly

CALIFORNIA

On June 28, Senate Bill 1012 unanimously passed the Committee on Water, Parks, and Wildlife. The proposed bill seeks to require California State Parks to restrict the use of open fires in accordance with local fire departments (or fire protection districts) in which a state park is located. The bill is now being re-referred to the Committee on Appropriations and could appear before the full assembly in August.

Currently, campfires and charcoal briquettes are prohibited in all state parks day use areas in the Sierra District (including Sugar Pine Point, D.L. Bliss, Emerald Bay, Kings Beach State Recreation Area, Tahoe State Recreation Area, and Donner Memorial State Park). Gas and propane grills are allowed. 

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In registered campsites, users can burn charcoal and wood within provided fire pits and stoves. During extreme fire conditions, such fires may be banned on short notice. Each state park sells firewood, with proceeds benefiting the park. The campsite allowances differ from Truckee and North Tahoe fire district guidelines, which ban all uses of charcoal in addition to wood.

The Sierra State Parks Foundation, the nonprofit partner with eight of the state parks around Lake Tahoe and Donner Lake, has not taken a position on SB-1012 and had no comment to share with Moonshine Ink.

The foundation makes local firewood available to campers among its 500 campsites. On average, Sierra State Parks Foundation sells 9,000 bundles a year in its parks.

Heidi Doyle, the foundation’s executive director, shared the following numbers with the Ink:

  • In 2020, we had $67,885.11 in wood sales, which cost $50,455 for a net of $17,430.11. 
  • In 2021, we had $58,569.33 in wood sales, which cost $34,685 for a net of $23,884.33.  

“Not included in the ‘return’ are other costs associated with the provision of wood sales in the parks,” Doyle wrote in an email. “As you can see, the return on investment is small for our organization.”

~ AH

Boating Safety Video For a Safe July 4th Weekend

LAKE TAHOE

With the goal of ensuring a safe summer on the water at Lake Tahoe, the League to Save Lake Tahoe, Clean Up The Lake, and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency recently released a video that delivers tips and resources for boaters and paddlers planning trips to the Big Blue. In recent years, and even early in this summer season, Tahoe has experienced tragic, on-water accidents. With the video, the three organizations aim to raise awareness of the lake’s unique conditions and boating rules, and promote good boating behavior — so this year is the safest yet. With the busy July 4th weekend approaching, sharing efforts have ramped up.

An easy and meaningful step before leaving the shore is to download the free Tahoe Boating App (tahoeboating.org). The TRPA, in collaboration with the League to Save Lake Tahoe, developed the app to inform boaters about Lake Tahoe, the location of marinas and gas stations, area attractions, and how to enjoy the lake safely and responsibly, including no-wake zones that are unique to Tahoe.  

Clean Up The Lake has a wealth of recent experience in how treacherous Tahoe’s waters can be. In May, the nonprofit organization completed the first-ever underwater cleanup of Tahoe’s 72-mile shoreline. Over the course of more than a year and 80-plus dive days on the water, the organization’s staff and volunteers experienced harsh weather, rough water, and less than desirable situations with other watercraft. Being alert and prepared to avoid risk is a message they feel passionately about spreading.

The majority of the boating public passes through one of Tahoe’s many marinas, rental businesses, and concessionaires before getting on the lake. Safety is a high priority for these operations, and so is educating their customers effectively and efficiently. The league, TRPA, and Clean Up The Lake shared the video with water-based businesses, and many are putting it to good use.

~ League to Save Lake Tahoe, Clean Up The Lake, TRPA press release

Supervisors Approve $1.22 Billion Budget with Strong Rainy-Day Fund

KINGS BEACH

The Placer County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on June 29 to approve a balanced budget totaling $1,221,251,032 for fiscal year 2022/23, representing a 19.2% increase over 2021/22.

The increase is attributed to inflationary costs and the addition of staffing to deliver services in key strategic areas of county operations. These cost increases are primarily offset with additional property and sales tax revenues related to the growing local economy. State and federal grant revenues have also increased to offset the growing cost of health and human services and public safety programs. Also included in the budget is an increase of $99.1 million in capital projects, which are funded by bond financing, capital reserves, and state grants.

Budget expenditures reflect the county’s priorities of public health and safety with approximately 44% of overall spending dedicated to the support of health and human services and public protection, including a 10.2% budget increase to the Placer County Health and Human Services Department.

Saving for a rainy day has also been part of the county’s fiscal planning process for many years, and achieving and maintaining a 10% budget reserve has been a top priority. The county has surpassed its goal by about $10 million with a projected General Fund Reserve of $69.7 million. 

Property tax, the county’s largest discretionary revenue source, is estimated to increase by 5.8% in 2022/23, continuing its upward trend. Sales taxes, transient occupancy lodging taxes, and other revenue sources driven by the economy are projected to remain stable.

“Placer County anticipated a reduction in its discretionary revenue last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic but those reductions did not materialize,” said Deputy County Executive Officer Daniel Chatigny. “The unemployment rate also turned around much faster than expected. As of April 2022, the unemployment rate was at 2.4% down from its peak in April 2020 of 13.3%.” 

In order to keep up with the county’s growth, the budget includes 76 new positions, with more than half allocated to the public health and safety sectors. Most notably, the District Attorney’s Office will receive additional staffing for a Community Prosecution Unit and the Sheriff’s Office will receive additional staffing to manage their new body-worn cameras program. Health and Human Services will receive 27 new positions to expand community programs and the Office of Emergency Services will receive additional staffing to support a series of wildfire prevention initiatives. 

Approved along with the budget are two five-year capital improvement plans, one for facilities and the other for countrywide improvements.  

The facilities plan includes approximately $68 million for construction of a new Health and Human Services building, which broke ground in February and when complete in fall 2023 will bring all HHS programs and services under one roof and provide additional convenience to residents.

A total of $8.5 million has also been allocated to finish the renovation of a warehouse for the new Clerk-Recorder Elections Office in Rocklin. Additionally, $33 million has been earmarked for a new Mental Health Facility and a Vocational Training and Medium Security Facility at the South Placer Jail in Roseville.

The countywide plan includes $61 million in roads, bridges, and transportation projects and $8.8 million in park projects including Martis Valley Trail.

The budget also includes nearly $78 million from the American Rescue Plan Act. This funding has been allocated to Covid response, construction of infrastructure, affordable housing, and broadband service improvements.

The county’s fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30. The approved budget will serve as the new spending plan when the next fiscal year begins July 1.

~ Placer County press release

Rally For Abortion Rights 

TRUCKEE 

On June 24, 150 people rallied in downtown Truckee to protest the Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn Roe v. Wade. The rally was organized by Nicole Baran, who previously has organized three other abortion rights rallies in Truckee in the past. 

Following Friday’s rally, Baran shared this message, “Thank you to the 150 people who showed up last minute to say we are part of the majority that believes abortion is essential healthcare and should be legal and accessible. Action is the antidote to fatigue, anger, sadness and solidarity. We came together to show our community we will stand up for the millions of people who will be forced to be pregnant in our country. We will fight for self-managed and medication abortion. We will fight for contraception. We will fight for abortion justice so people of all genders, races, and incomes can actually access the healthcare that is still legal in California.” 

Baran and other local abortion rights activist are asking to community to take action. “The next step is to talk to others,” Baran told Moonshine Ink. “Tell them why this matters. Tell them about combating the misinformation of crisis pregnancy centers, which are not health care centers. Tell them about safe medication abortions instead of talking about hangers, which scares young people without giving them a safe resource. Tell them how abortion justice affects every issue they care about. Tell them to take action.” She stressed the importance combating the misinformation of crisis pregnancy centers and believes this will be a key issue in California where abortion remains legal. 

Resources for those looking to take action:

~ KM

BEARY GOOD BOOK: Introducing, Good Night Tahoe, a children’s board book by Kevin Sullivan about the animals, activities, and places in the Tahoe/Reno/Carson City region. Courtesy illustration

Introducing … Good Night Tahoe

LAKE TAHOE

The dream-like Good Night Tahoe children’s book by Kevin Sullivan takes the reader on a tour to meet Lake Tahoe’s native and common baby animals while they are enjoying recreational activities in some of the most remarkable places that make the lake region so magical.

Good Night Tahoe is a book that reminds readers of the incomparable beauty of Lake Tahoe. On Tuesday, July 12, from 5 to 7 p.m., there is a book signing for members only at the Thunderbird Lodge in Incline Village. 

Michael Furuya, the illustrator, is an accomplished fine artist, a graduate of the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. He is passionate about environmental education. He was part of the creative duo of ‘Ohi’a Productions, which for a span of 15 years produced plays and a series of award-winning picture books for the children of Hawaii. When he is not painting images of native birds and animals, he is enjoying the beauty of his island home.

Good Night Tahoe author Kevin Sullivan is a part-time resident of Incline Village, and is both a writer and an educator. He has written several Hawaii-themed books for young readers. He is passionate about raising awareness about protecting the environment, particularly the Lake Tahoe Basin and its flora and fauna. He has many fond memories growing up of Tahoe ski trips and rafting the Truckee with his family. When he is not writing, he enjoys spending time with his three big dogs.

~ Beary Tahoe press release 

PROUDLY PAINTED: The Kings Beach Art Tour is taking place July 30 and 31, and includes this piece by Mary Beth Hamilton. Courtesy photo

Self-Guided Art Tour Returns July 30 to 31

KINGS BEACH

The upcoming Kings Beach Art Tour features 21 local artists who will open their studios to display and sell their art in a fun and interactive way. The self-guided studio art tour will take place July 30 and July 31 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Kings Beach and Tahoe Vista. This is the third annual tour.

Attendees will see and have the opportunity to purchase paintings, jewelry, basketry/gourds, pastels, ceramics, mixed media, pen and ink, beadwork, photography, glass, fabric, and yarn works of art.

Attendees interact with artists, see where art is created, learn about art process and technique, and directly purchase artwork from the artist. Most of the eight studio locations feature two or more artists and their creations.

The Kings Beach Art Tour is self-guided. A list of artists, sample artwork images, studio addresses, and a map of studio locations will be available at kbarttour.com. Visit some or all eight studios; all within approximately a 1.4-mile radius in the Kings Beach neighborhood and the east end of Tahoe Vista off of Highway 267. There is no tour fee and no sponsoring organization … just a simple collaboration among artists, friends, and neighbors.

~ North Tahoe Business Association press release

Cal Fire Urges Safety as July Fourth Holiday Approaches

SACRAMENTO 

“Safe and sane” fireworks went on sale in many communities across California in June, but Cal Fire is reminding everyone to do their part to have a safe holiday and help prevent fires and injuries caused by fireworks. With the July 4th holiday around the corner, state fire officials are stressing the dangers and consequences of using illegal fireworks.

Over the past few months, the Cal Fire Office of the State Fire Marshal’s specialized arson and bomb investigators have been providing intelligence and support to local and federal illegal fireworks enforcement efforts. These operations have seized tens of thousands of pounds of illegal fireworks. It is illegal to sell, transport, or use fireworks that do not carry the safe and sane seal, as well as possess or use fireworks in a community where they are not permitted. If convicted, a violator could be fined up to $50,000, as well as be sent to jail for up to one year. Parents are liable for any damage or injuries caused by their children using fireworks. Illegal fireworks include: skyrockets, bottle rockets, Roman candles, aerial shells, firecrackers, other fireworks that explode, go into the air, or move on the ground in an uncontrollable manner. 

“Fire conditions are elevated, and the 4th of July, along with the use of fireworks, only increases the risk for wildfires,” said Joe Tyler, Cal Fire director and fire chief. “It is critical that Californians be vigilant and consider leaving the fireworks to the professionals.”

Cal Fire is offering the public the following fireworks precautions:

  • If using safe and sane fireworks, first check they are allowed in the area of use.
  • Make sure the firework has the State Fire Marshal Safe and Sane seal on it.
  • Have a bucket of water and a garden hose available at the firing site. During this drought it is recommend you use a bucket of gray/reused water to submerge your firework after it’s used to fully extinguish it.
  • Read all instructions before use.
  • Never alter, modify, or enhance fireworks — use only in the manner intended.
  • Make sure fireworks have proper clearance from flammable materials including dry grass and brush. 

~ Cal Fire press release 

RED, WHITE, AND BLUE: Join the league to Save Lake Tahoe and Clean Up The Lake on July 5. Courtesy photos

July 5 Beach Cleanups

LAKE TAHOE

After July 4th festivities, Tahoe’s beaches are often left littered with trash, which can hurt wildlife and the lake’s unique water quality and clarity. Every July 5 since 2013, the League to Save Lake Tahoe has recruited hundreds of volunteers to participate in organized efforts to clean Tahoe’s beaches. This July 5, the League to Save Lake Tahoe will partner with Clean Up The Lake 501(c)3 and Eco-Clean Solutions to make an even bigger impact.

The Keep Tahoe Red, White, and Blue Beach Cleanup will activate volunteers to scour the shoreline around Lake Tahoe to remove litter, while divers from Clean Up The Lake will clean Nevada Beach’s subsurface shoreline of litter and firework debris that entered the lake the night before. The BEBOT, an innovative, all-electric, beach-cleaning robot brought to Tahoe through a collaborative effort between the league and Eco-Clean Solutions will comb the sand for smaller litter debris left behind from the holiday events.

Volunteers will collect trash and debris by hand; the BEBOT will sift beach sands to remove tiny bits of litter difficult to detect by people; and Clean Up The Lake’s dive team will patrol the underwater environment near the shoreline for the remnants of July 4th celebrations. Join in to be a part of Tahoe’s largest annual litter cleanup event on July 5 from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Clean-up sites include Nevada Beach in Zephyr Cove, Kings Beach Recreation Area in Kings Beach, and Regan and Kiva beaches in South Lake Tahoe.

~ League to Save Lake Tahoe, Clean Up The Lake press release 

Students in Nevada Won’t Worry About School Meals Next Year

SPARKS

The state of Nevada has invested $75 million for free school meals in Nevada schools operating the National School Lunch Program this-coming academic year. Approved by the Interim Finance Committee on June 21, American Rescue Plan Act funds will be used to continue pandemic recovery and ensure students have food to eat by providing free school breakfast and lunch.

“Between distance learning over the last two years and economic impacts affecting families, it is important to support parents and students any way we can,” said Gov. Steve Sisolak. “We know students can’t learn on an empty stomach. This is one way we can help make sure students have access to healthy meals at school, and provide some relief to parents.”

Sisolak committed to free school meals for students during his State of the State speech earlier this year as a way to address food security in Nevada and provide assistance to children and their parents. Studies have shown that students who have access to nutritious foods perform better in school.

School meals have been free since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020 through U.S. Department of Agriculture waivers. Prior to the pandemic, the only meals provided free or at a reduced rate were at schools operating the NSLP to students whose families met eligibility requirements. As the U.S. transitioned to pandemic recovery efforts, the waivers were not renewed at a national level for all students. Sisolak, Nevada Department of Education, and the Nevada Department of Agriculture recognized this gap and worked throughout the spring to build a program that would ensure students receive free school meals for one more academic year. This funding has been presented and approved by the legislature.

As part of the process, it is important for parents to fill out the free and reduced lunch eligibility form when registering their child for school. This is a critical step to ensure that Nevada receives all the federal funding and services available to support our students this next school year and into the future.

Free school meals is part of a series of food security improvement programs initiated by the NDA. Other programs have included $500,000 going toward improving infrastructure and food accessibility, $400,000 to food accessibility for food insecure senior populations, and $2 million for the Home Feeds Nevada agriculture food purchase program. To learn more about food security programs and find other resources, visit agri.nv.gov.

~ Nevada Department of Agriculture press release 

Construction Update for the July 4th Holiday Weekend

DONNER SUMMIT

Donner Pass Road reopened on the evening of June 30 and will remain open through 6 a.m. on July 5. Please remember to drive and recreate safely in this area.

~ Nevada County Community Development Agency

Homeowner Incentives Through Lease to Locals Program

KINGS BEACH

North Lake Tahoe homeowners could soon earn up to $24,000 by offering their property as a long-term rental to local workers. 

The Placer County Board of Supervisors today advanced a proposed $95,000 agreement with Truckee-based firm Landing Locals to market and administer the one-year Lease to Locals pilot program. 

The board is scheduled to consider final adoption of the program and a budget amendment providing up to $405,000 in funding for grants to participating homeowners with underused properties in the coming weeks. Funding is proposed to come from local lodging tax revenues. 

Under the proposal, property owners may offer their property for seasonal leases between five and 12 months in length or long-term for 12 months or more, with incentive amounts varying by the length of lease and number of tenants. 

Placer would join the Town of Truckee in partnering with Landing Locals, which recently extended its own program after exceeding its goal by providing 56 grants and housing 112 residents. 

Landing Locals has since expanded to serve other mountain resort communities in South Lake Tahoe and more. 

If the program is approved and launches as planned on Aug. 1, Landing Locals would work with homeowners to guide them through the process of qualifying for the grant, including listing the property on the Landing Locals website where they can connect with local tenants seeking housing. 

Placer County would provide the grants once leases are signed and Landing Locals would handle all of the qualifying of tenants and landlords. Half the grant would be provided when the lease is signed, and the other half at the end of the lease upon verification of tenancy. Lease agreements would be between the homeowner and the tenant. 

To qualify for the program, a property must be located in unincorporated Placer County within the boundaries of its East Placer Transient Occupancy Tax District. To be eligible, units cannot have been rented long-term within the past 18 months. Property owners would need to submit an application, sign a lease with qualifying tenants, and undergo lease checks to ensure they are in compliance. 

A prospective tenant must be an adult employed at least 20 hours per week at an employment site within the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District geographical boundary, who is not of blood relation to the property owner.

Tenants and homeowners can learn more about the program and, if approved, fill out online applications by going to: landinglocals.com/NorthLakeTahoe/ or by calling Landing Locals at (530) 448-8179 or emailing hello@landinglocals.com.

~ Placer County press release

NEW TRAIL, ANYONE? The Tahoe Fund and TAMBA have launched a $50,000 matching campaign to build the Meeks Ridge Trail, a 4.5-mile multi-use trail that will create a new 10-plus mile loop option for hikers and mountain bikers on Lake Tahoe’s West Shore. Photo courtesy TAMBA

Tahoe Fund, TAMBA Launch Matching Campaign for New Trail

TAHOE CITY

The Tahoe Fund and the Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association announced a $50,000 matching campaign to build the Meeks Ridge Trail. This new 4.5-mile multi-use trail will provide a brand-new 10-plus mile loop option for hikers and mountain bikers on Lake Tahoe’s West Shore.

The new trail, which will begin just north of Meeks Bay Resort, starts near lake level and then climbs to the top of Meeks Ridge, where it will connect with the Lost Lake Trail. From there, users will be able to pick up the General Creek Trail as part of the 10- to 12-mile loop. The loop will end by the Highway 89 bike path that connects directly to Sugar Pine Point and Meeks Bay Campground. 

While volunteers are working diligently to clear and build the lower half of the trail, a paid crew will be key to completing the final 2 to3 miles of the trail at higher elevations. The upper section is more rugged and requires a professional team to tackle the difficult terrain. The funds raised through the Tahoe Fund’s $50,000 matching campaign will help cover the cost of the paid crew, allowing them to be camped in the higher elevations for eight days at a time to work on the trail more efficiently.

With panoramic views of Meeks Bay, Meeks Meadow, and Desolation Wilderness, naming rights at four vista points along the trail are available for a $10,000 donation each. The vista points, identified on this map, will feature a bench and custom plaque with the name of the donor. To contribute to the matching campaign or secure a vista point, please visit tahoefund.org/projects/active-projects/meeks-ridge-trail or email info@tahoefund.org

~ Tahoe Fund, TAMBA press release

Business Briefs

Midsummer Night’s Dinner, Dance Benefits Tahoe Food Hub Programs

TRUCKEE

Tahoe Food Hub is bringing back its farm to table dinners this summer with a Midsummer Night’s Dinner & Dance on Aug. 7 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. 

Enjoy a seasonal four-course meal prepared by chef Will Burns of Moody’s Bistro, Bar & Beats. Celebrate local farmers with a farm to table feast benefiting Tahoe Food Hub’s community outreach programs. The setting is reminiscent of a midsummer night. Dine and dance amongst the trees at Camp Wamp, a beautifully restored old Girl Scout camp, nestled between two lakes on Donner Summit about 3 miles past Royal Gorge Cross-Country Center in Soda Springs. 

Pre-dinner music by local artists, Shannon Carrol and Jeremy Thomas of Wild Ginger. Stay for square dancing after dinner from 7:30 to 8:30 with Carson City caller Magda Sanchez. Wine and beer donated by Ramey Wine Cellars and Fifty-Fifty Brewing. Tahoe Food Hub thanks its sponsors, The Rice Team at Guild Mortgage and Tahoe Art Haus & Cinema for making it possible to bring the arm to Tahoe.”  

It will be an intimate dining experience with capacity for 65 people. Tickets are $125/person and includes dinner, dancing and two glasses of wine/beer (additional beverages available for purchase). Reserve your seat at the table today and meet the farmers who grow the food, hear their stories, and celebrate the harvest. Directions to each venue will be provided upon registration. Learn about Tahoe Food Hub’s community outreach programs including the Giving Box program that provides fresh, local food to families in need; their Farmer Resiliency Fund and — coming soon — the education greenhouse and Sierra Growing Classroom at Truckee River Regional Park. Tickets and reservations can be made online at tahoefoodhub.org/events.

~ Tahoe Food Hub Press Release 

TEA Launches Revamped Independent Study Program

TRUCKEE

The Tahoe Expedition Academy is known for empowering students to make the most of their education and embrace the idea that some of the best learning happens outside of the classroom. With that in mind, TEA is thrilled to launch a revamped independent study program in the 2022/23 school year,  intended for students and families who travel and have season-long commitments. 

Known as the Individual Adventure Program, it will allow students to participate in offsite adventures with their families and other organizations, while still continuing their learning path encompassing constructive adversity and connection with their TEA classmates. It’s a program that helped U.S. Ski Team Member Cody LaPlante graduate a year early.

The IAP supports students through enhanced personalization in academic course content. It was designed with two main groups in mind. The first group includes students with weekly seasonal conflicts or sports commitments, like ski teams, music, dance, horseback riding and more. The second group includes students who have to travel for more than five consecutive school days at a time for any reason. This includes family trips, student conferences or other extended leaves of absence.

Students will have an IAP coordinator who monitors their progress and provides weekly support. TEA teachers will be in charge of planning assignments and projects, and ensuring students meet education standards. The program also relies on parents, coaches and other group leaders to help the student maintain focus and accountability. TEA has also hired Emily Reid to oversee the IAP. A North Lake Tahoe Native with over 20 years of education experience, Reid has worked with families around the world to create personalized curriculum pathways for students.

To learn more about the cost structure and to apply for the program, visit tahoeexpeditionacademy.org/individualized-adventure-program.

~ TEA press release

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