Sculpture Created with Litter from 72-mile Scuba Cleanup of Lake Tahoe
Artists have given new meaning to the adage “one person’s trash is another’s treasure,” with the unveiling of Surfaced, a new art installation created with more than 450 pounds of items recovered from last year’s 72-mile scuba cleanup of Lake Tahoe. Commissioned by the Tahoe Fund with support from Tahoe Blue Vodka, the sculpture was created to educate visitors about what was found lying beneath Tahoe’s blue waters and encourage environmental stewardship. It was unveiled on Sept. 27 at its permanent home at the new Tahoe Blue Event Center in Stateline, Nevada, on the south shore of Lake Tahoe.
Using litter found underneath Tahoe’s surface, including lures and bobbers, sunglasses, paddles, traffic cones, chains, anchors, and rubber edging often found on docks and buoys, internationally recognized artists Joel Dean Stockdill and Yustina Salnikova, represented by public art agency Building 180, created an original sculpture depicting a bald eagle, Lahontan cutthroat trout, and Ponderosa pine tree, as voted on by the public.
The artists, known for creating beautiful art from recycled and reclaimed materials, spent the last year working on the design and parsing through litter that divers from the nonprofit Clean Up the Lake had stored in a 20-foot container. Their goal was to find elements that would capture the distinct features of the animals being depicted in a way that was as close to their actual appearance as possible.
Stockdill and Salnikova collected precisely enough white paddles to form the tail feathers of the eagle. They used a mosaic technique to turn brightly colored bits of plastic — from sunglasses, lures and bobbers — into the thousands of tiny, life-size scales on the trout. The fins? Crafted from a traffic cone. And they made the bark of the Ponderosa pine tree stump out of hundreds of feet of chain. The stump, which measures 3 feet in diameter and is 3 feet tall, makes up much of the weight of the sculpture, which in total weighs nearly 700 pounds.
~ Tahoe Fund, Clean Up the Lake, Building 180, and Tahoe Blue Vodka press release
Prescribed Fire Operations Planned to Resume on Tahoe National Forest
Tahoe National Forest plans to resume fall prescribed fire operations as early as Sept. 29, dependent on fuels and weather conditions. Planned burn locations and timeline to complete projects may vary across the forest.
Upcoming potential prescribed burns include the Truckee Ranger District:
- 500-acre underburn near Sagehen Hills
- 30 acres of pile burning at various locations within the district
Fall typically brings cooler temperatures and precipitation, which can be ideal for conducting prescribed fires. Each operation follows a specialized burn plan, wherein temperature, humidity, wind, vegetation moisture and smoke dispersal conditions are considered daily before a prescribed fire is implemented. All this information is used to decide if and when to burn.
Prescribed fires are part of vital fuels reduction efforts aiming to reduce the severity of future wildfires, restore forest health and diversity, and provide added protection for surrounding communities.
~ Tahoe National Forest press release
County to Begin Studying Replacement Project for Tahoe Justice Center
The Placer County Board of Supervisors recently took another step toward modernizing the Tahoe Justice Center and Placer County Sheriff’s Office North Lake Tahoe Station, authorizing staff to begin land use consulting and project planning and entitlements to facilitate the design of the project to replace the facilities. The approved contract for the project is to not exceed $500,000.
“The current Tahoe Justice Center has been the subject of Placer County’s Grand Jury reports for many years because it’s inadequate and dilapidated,” said Placer Facilities Director Steve Newsom. “[The Sept. 26] action by the board signals to the state and the Grand Jury that the county is serious about modernizing that facility and we’re moving forward with our environmental review process for that project.”
The current Tahoe Justice Center is located on approximately 10 acres off North Lake Boulevard on a property known as Burton Creek. The facility was constructed in 1959 to serve as a sheriff’s substation during the 1960 Winter Olympics. Although intended to be temporary at the time, the facility continues to be used to house sheriff’s office operations, staff and equipment, as well as trial court functions of the Placer Superior Court.
The new PCSO station will replace the county’s current Department of Public Works facility on the northwest side of the Burton Creek property, adjacent to the current justice center. The county is reviewing locations throughout Tahoe City and the Lake Tahoe Basin to relocate the Department of Public Works facility and any associated snowplows or maintenance machinery.
The Burton Creek site is the ideal location to co-house the sheriff’s office substation and Placer Superior Court because of the location within the Tahoe Basin, and the synergy between the Placer Superior Court and county law enforcement agencies.
In May, the board signed a letter of support to the California Judicial Council’s Facilities Advisory Committee noting the intent of a North Tahoe courthouse replacement project and advocating for continued co-location. The state has expressed intent to purchase the existing justice center buildings and proceed with renovations independently of the county.
Learn more about the Burton Creek Justice Center and replacement project here.
~ Placer County press release
Supervisor Hall Advocates for Wildfire Insurance Solutions in D.C.
Nevada County Supervisor Heidi Hall met last week with congressional staff to discuss possible wildfire insurance solutions.
Many county homeowners have been dropped by insurance providers and have had to get costly fire insurance through the California FAIR plan because no private company will insure them. Even more alarming, insurance for fire department buildings has doubled or even tripled.
Similar problems are happening across the country due to an increase in extreme weather events related to climate change. Some low-income housing projects nationwide have been stalled because of the high cost of insurance.
“We’re looking for help from anybody and everybody,” Hall said. “There’s no one magic bullet on this.”
Hall would like Congress to hold hearings with experts who could craft solutions. Some ideas are:
- A federal backstop that could help provide fire insurance when none is available.
- Insurance providers giving a meaningful discount to homeowners who have done costly work to harden their homes (i.e. removing trees to create a defensible space around the home, installing vents on the home to prevent fire embers from coming in, installing dual-pane windows to prevent them from cracking under heat).
- Federal regulations to keep non-admitted insurance companies from overcharging and pulling out of the market. Non-admitted insurance companies aren’t required to follow the same state regulations as admitted carriers.
- Considering reducing insurance requirements from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on low-income housing.
Hall discussed these ideas with staff working for Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla of California and Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon as well as Rep. Maxine Waters of Los Angeles. Hall stressed that private insurance companies are still needed.
~ Nevada County press release
School District Invites Community Input for Facilities Master Plan
The Tahoe Truckee Unified School District invites all community members within its boundaries to participate in a public survey to shape its Facilities Master Plan.
The TTUSD Facilities Master Plan is a five- to seven-year roadmap outlining long-term strategic goals to develop and enhance TTUSD’s physical infrastructure. This plan will establish a path forward by identifying the most critical needs, complete with steps, timelines, and projected costs. By utilizing the completed planning document, district staff and the board of trustees will be empowered to make well-informed decisions on feasible, actionable steps aligned with the district’s long-term vision.
The creation of this plan commenced in the spring of 2023 when TTUSD staff, in collaboration with a specialized consultant, initiated targeted input sessions with regional agency partners and school sites. To further broaden the spectrum of voices involved, the next step involves soliciting input from a wider audience through a public survey and hosting district-wide, in-person community meetings scheduled for this November (exact dates are currently being finalized).
The public survey, accessible at tejoin.com/scroll/908833094, was officially opened on Friday, Sept. 8, and will remain open for participation until Friday, Oct. 6.
~ TTUSD press release
Food System Exploration Through Agroecology
Tahoe Food Hub and Mountain Lotus Provisions are hosting a program of visionary speakers, live music, culture, and delicious fare, all centered around the exploration of food system transformation through agroecology. Featured guests include renowned author and activist, Anna Lappe, Indigenous seed steward; Rowan White, Washoe Warrior; Elder Frank Grayshield; and WGZT Board Member Dr. Lisa Grayshield.
“One of the most special parts is we have brought in the Washoe Tribe,” said Kellee Rich of Mountain Lotus. “One for land acknowledgement … We’re performing this fundraiser on sacred Washoe ground. We’ll also have Washoe spiritual leaders there to lead us in sacred songs.”
This is a fundraising event for the Tahoe Food Hub and Washiw Zulshish Gum T’anu (WZGT), or Washoe Warrior Society. Tickets are $10 and include one drink ticket and appetizers. Attendees are also encouraged to make a donation.
Purchase tickets and learn more about the event here.
Flu Shots Available at Tahoe Forest Health System
Flu season has arrived and the Centers for Disease Control recommends everyone over the age of 6 months get a flu shot each year. Tahoe Forest Health System is now offering walk-in flu shot clinics at the Tahoe Forest Pharmacy and the Pediatric Clinic in Truckee.
Flu shots are available for patients ages 3 years and older at the Tahoe Forest Pharmacy, located on the first floor of the Medical Office Building at 10956 Donner Pass Rd., Monday through Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., and 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. Flu shots are available by walk-in only.
Tahoe Forest Pediatrics will be hosting flu shot walk-in clinics for established patients ages 6 months and older on Oct. 14 and Nov. 4, 9 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. The Pediatrics Clinic is located on the third floor of the Medical Office Building.
Flu shot pricing at the Tahoe Forest Pharmacy is $50, and $100 for the high dose for patients over 65 years old. Most insurance is accepted; however, insurance may not cover the full cost. The high dose flu shot is usually covered by Medicare. Cash or credit card will be accepted for payment, and patients are asked to bring an ID and insurance card, if applicable.
For additional free community flu shot clinics, visit tfhd.com/flushot.
~ TFHS press release
NTCA to Host Community Investment Showcase Oct. 17
The North Tahoe Community Alliance will host a Community Investment Showcase at the North Tahoe Event Center from 4 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 17. The event will provide an opportunity for community members to learn about the NTCA Community Vitality and Economic Health Investment Program, the projects that have been funded, and how the TOT-TBID Dollars At Work program supports a vibrant, year-round economy in North Lake Tahoe.
Earlier this month, 17 projects and programs that benefit residents, businesses, and visitors in the areas of workforce housing, transportation, trails, and tourism mitigation services were selected to receive three years of funding support through the sponsorship grant program. In total, up to $20,027,558 in funds from Transient Occupancy Tax generated in Eastern Placer County and assessments from the North Lake Tahoe Tourism Business Improvement District (NLT-TBID) were recommended or approved.
Event attendees will meet the NTCA staff and project applicants, and learn about the transformative projects that have been funded. Community members planning to attend are asked to RSVP online by Oct. 10.
Learn more about the NTCA’s Community Vitality and Economic Health Investment Program at northtahoecommunityalliance.com/our-investments.
~ NTCA press release
County 2022 Crop Value Drops 12% Amid Weather Challenges, Lower Market Prices
Historic weather challenges and lower tree crop market prices contributed to a 12% decrease in the total gross value of agricultural crops and products in Placer County for 2022.
Rice, beef cattle, nursery products, poultry, and walnuts remained among Placer County’s top five highest-gross-value crops.
That’s according to the 2022 Placer County Agricultural Crop Report, presented to the county board of supervisors as an informational item at a late September meeting.
The total agricultural crops and products value for 2022 was $88.8 million, a decrease from 2021’s record-setting value of $100.8 million.
“Placer County farmers and producers faced unprecedented weather impacts and a shifting market landscape in 2022,” said Placer County Agricultural Commissioner Josh Huntsinger. “Despite these challenges, our agricultural community demonstrated resilience and strength. We remain dedicated to supporting our local farmers and working together to navigate these dynamic conditions.”
The annual totals reflect the gross value of agricultural crops and products, not producers’ net incomes.
As part of its legal mandate to prevent invasive species from entering the state, the Placer County Department of Agriculture, Parks and Natural Resources profiled over 50,000 shipments containing plant material and deployed over 1,500 invasive insect detection traps.
The annual crop report, published between August and September, continues to evolve its content with additional agricultural data and history.
The report also includes data about farmers’ markets, local and organic products, weighing devices, pest exclusion shipment inspections, noxious weed control, and more.
For more information, contact the Agricultural Commissioner’s Office at (530) 889-7372. A copy of the 2022 Crop Report, and Crop Report Plus Series, a look back at the economic contributions of agriculture in Placer County, are available online here.
Learn more about Placer County’s agricultural legacy with the agricultural commissioner’s interactive story map, here.
~ Placer County press release
Roadkill Data Shows Decline of Mule Deer, Coyote
The number of mule deer, coyote and other wildlife getting hit by vehicles on California’s roadways is falling, signaling a decline in some key animal populations in the state, according to an annual report from the Road Ecology Center at University of California, Davis.
The annual report, which analyzes roadkill observations on local roads and state highways across the state, identifies more than 600 collision hot spots and emphasizes the need for fencing to protect animal and human lives.
“Traffic impacts are a massive problem in California and throughout the world,” said Fraser Shilling, director of the UC Davis Road Ecology Center. “Adequate roadside fencing would reduce wildlife being hit by vehicles.”
The hot spots include:
- Bay Area: I-680, I-280, SR 17
- Sacramento/Placerville: SR 49, I-80, U.S. 50
- Central Sierra Nevada: SR 108, SR 88, SR 4
- Central Coast and Southern: I-405, U.S. 101, SR 154
At first glance, a decline in roadkill cases may seem positive, but rates of roadkill can be an indicator of trends in wildlife population changes, particularly if animal movement and traffic patterns did not change.
In the case of mule deer, the reduction in collisions indicates a roughly 10% population decline every year for seven years. For coyotes, the decline was by 5% per year in the same time period, Shilling said.
“For many species the relationship between collisions and population is pretty strong,” he said. “This is a fairly drastic decline.”
Mountain lions and black bears are highly vulnerable to vehicle strikes as they traverse large range areas, and that movement increases in times of drought as they forage for food. Collisions for those two species have increased by 10% between 2016 and 2022, the report finds.
The report presses for improved, evidence-based, decision-making about the need for roadside wildlife fencing and where to place and design crossing structures for wildlife connectivity.
~ UC Davis press release
Cal Fire Establishes New Training Program to Increase Defensible Space, Home Hardening Efforts
The Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) has established a statewide program to allow qualified entities to support the department in its defensible space and home hardening assessment and education efforts. Qualified entities are local or state government agencies, academic staff, or other approved organizations who have undergone the new OSFM Defensible Space Assessment Program training detailed below.
These qualified entities, with the authorization of the director of Cal Fire, are eligible to undergo training to conduct defensible space and home hardening assessments within the State Responsibility Area. This includes educating property owners about wildfire safety improvements that may be undertaken to harden a structure and make it more resistant to wildfire and assessing whether wildfire safety improvements have been completed on or around a structure.
Qualified entities that have community momentum built around defensible space are being targeted for inclusion in the initial stages of this program. A pilot program has been established using trained personnel from the El Dorado County Fire Safe Council with the first Defensible Space and Home Hardening Assessor course being taught in April 2023.
The California Conservation Corps (CCC) will host a training for its corps members and staff this fall. The CCC will start assessments on state facilities located in Very High Fire California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Office of the State Fire Marshal Hazard Severity Zones working down to Moderate Fire Hazard Severity Zones. After the assessment, CCC will be conducting vegetation reduction projects around each of the state facilities, bringing them into compliance with the defensible space standards.
OSFM’s training program will provide consistent training for qualified entity assessors, who will provide non regulatory assistance to homeowners to reduce fire risk and achieve compliance with defensible space requirements.
Those who are members of a local government or qualified entity, as defined in PRC 4291.5, may request the Model Defensible Space Program and Inspection Platform or the Qualified Entities Assessment Platform using this form: forms.office.com/g/FwpYJrM20d.
This program will create more face-to-face interaction and educational opportunities between homeowners and individuals who are trained in defensible space and home hardening; ultimately creating a more wildfire resilient California by increasing public knowledge of scientifically proven home hardening and defensible space best practices.
To learn more about the defensible space program, visit fire.ca.gov/dspace.
~ Cal Fire press release
Palisades Tahoe Introduces Reservation-Based Parking for 2023/24 Winter Season
Palisades Tahoe is introducing a new reservation-based parking program for the 2023/24 winter season. The program is being implemented in an effort to alleviate traffic congestion and elevate the overall guest experience, and underscores the company’s commitment to the local community and region-wide efforts to mitigate traffic-related challenges. The new parking program requires advance reservations at Palisades and Alpine on weekends and holidays before 1 p.m. only, and includes a mix of free and paid parking reservations. There will be no assigned spaces. All mid-week parking will remain free and will not require a reservation.
Paid and free parking reservations will be required for every vehicle at Palisades and Alpine on the following dates:
- December: 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31
- January: 6, 7, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21, 27, 28
- February: 3, 4, 10, 11, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25
- March: 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24, 30, 31
- April: TBD based on demand
Free Reservations: The majority of the parking inventory has been dedicated to free reservations. They will be made available for booking every Tuesday for the upcoming weekend and holiday periods. To accommodate a wide range of schedules, the free reservation inventory will be released in two segments: 50% of the free parking inventory will become available at 12 p.m. PST, with the remaining 50% accessible at 7 p.m. The first date that free reservations will be made available will be Tuesday, Nov. 28.
Paid Reservations: Paid reservations can be reserved by anyone who would like to ensure their parking is secured well in advance of their visit. Guest will be able to reserve up to 10 paid parking reservations at one time. The inventory for paid parking reservations for the entire winter season will be released in the fall, allowing visitors to plan ahead for their winter activities.
To make a free or paid parking reservation, guests should create an account at parkpalisadestahoe.com.
If all reservations are fully booked for a specific date, it is recommended that guests take regional public transportation, utilize Park and Ride options, or carpool with a friend who has a parking reservation. For those who have made a parking reservation and are carpooling with three or more people, Palisades has designated closer parking spaces that are closer to the lifts as an added perk.
~ Palisades press release