Bill Restricting State Park Open Fires Dies; Record Few Red Flag Warnings; Local Emergency for Mosquito Fire; More

Briefs: Sept. 9 - 15, 2022

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News Briefs

Bill Restricting State Park Open Fires Dies

SACRAMENTO

Senate Bill 1012, introduced this past March by Sens. Steve Glazer (D) and Jim Nielsen (R), has failed to advance to the California State Senate. The proposed bill aimed to require California state parks to restrict use of open fires in accordance with local fire departments in which a state park is located.

“The bill is dead,” Glazer’s chief of staff,  Dan Weintraub, told  Moonshine Ink. “It was held in the Assembly Appropriations Committee in August and was there when the discussion ended on Aug. 30.”

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While no formal reason was given, Weintraub said his office has surmised that the committee believed the cost to be excessive, reported at over $1 million to hire staff, create a signage program, and put up electronic signs informing park visitors they aren’t allowed to have campfires.

“We didn’t think it should require any more staff or signage to tell people they can’t have fires when the local fire districts have burn bans because the same message is getting out,” he continued. “… If the wind is blowing 100 mph tomorrow, state parks would probably ban campfires … [and] they would have to communicate that with their campers.”

Currently, state parks sell firewood and allow open fire in provided rings at designated campsites, though during extreme fire conditions, such open flame may be banned on short notice. In day use areas like Sugar Pine Point, D.L. Bliss, and Kings Beach State Recreation Area, campfires and charcoal briquettes aren’t allowed, though gas and propane grills are. These campsite allowances differ from Truckee and North Tahoe fire district guidelines, which ban all uses of charcoal in addition to wood.

With this bill dead, any decision over whether to make the parks’ fire restrictions consistent with the local fire restrictions rests with the governor,” Weintraub said. “Only he has the power to make this change and potentially prevent the next catastrophic wildfire.”

~ AH

2022 Sees Record Few Red Flag Warnings

TRUCKEE/TAHOE

Amid smoke impacts and evacuation warnings from the Mosquito Fire in western Placer County, the number of red flag warnings (when weather events may result in extreme fire behavior) to date for Moonshine Ink’s coverage region this year is zero.

According to Chris Smallcomb, his National Weather Service Reno office has only issued four red flag warnings this year (available at this link, click on ‘List Events’ tab), none of which included the Tahoe or Truckee areas. “This is way below normal,” he wrote in an email. “In fact, it’s the lowest number of RFWs we’ve issued as an office through Sept. 13 dating back to 2006.”

With respect to the current smoke conditions spurred by the Mosquito Fire currently burning in El Dorado and Placer counties, Smallcomb explained that subtle changes in wind direction have had big impacts on wildfire smoke into the local area. During the first few days of the Mosquito Fire, winds mainly hailed from the west and northwest, “which just opened the floodgates for smoke into Tahoe,” he said. “Lately, the winds have been more out of the west/southwest which has trended the smoke more up into the Truckee, Reno areas.”

The best source for real-time smoke air quality data is via fire.airnow.gov, which includes sensors all around the region.

~ AH

Rock Climber Arrested

INYO COUNTY/PLACER COUNTY

A well-known professional rock climber with ties to the Tahoe area was recently arrested in Mono County on charges of sexual assault. Years ago, he also had three restraining orders issued against him in Placer County. 

According to a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of California, Charles Barrett, 38, was charged on Aug. 30 with two counts of aggravated sexual abuse and one count of abusive sexual contact stemming from an incident in August 2016 in Yosemite National Park. On Sept. 6, Barrett was denied bail due to evidence that “no conditions will reasonably assure the safety of any other person in the community,” according to the detention order, which also stated that the weight of evidence against Barrett is high and that “he has a significant prior criminal record of violence.”

He is currently being held in the Fresno County Jail.

Moonshine Ink obtained documents indicating that the Superior Court of California, Tahoe City Division, issued two restraining orders against Barrett in November 2008 and then again in February and March 2014 for the same woman. She also received a criminal protective order against Barrett in Inyo County in 2009, a special condition of probation, do not harass, 2009 to 2014, and another criminal protective order in 2014.

Barrett, originally from Santa Rosa, lived in South Lake Tahoe starting in 2019, according to the Tahoe Quarterly.

If convicted, Barrett faces a maximum statutory penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine. If you have information related to this case or believe you may be a victim, call (888) 653-0009 or email nps_isb@nps.gov. 

~ Melissa Siig/Moonshine Ink

Annual Pancake Breakfast Partnership Severed

MEEKS BAY

During the Aug. 17 meeting, the Meeks Bay Fire Protection District board voted to discontinue its partnership with the Sierra State Parks Foundation for the annual pancake breakfast. The decision comes about amid California State Parks selling firewood and allowing open fire in designated campsite areas. (See brief titled Bill Restricting State Park Open Fires Dies for the status on a senate bill hoping to curb the open fire allowance.)

In a letter to the fire protection district board, North Tahoe Fire Protection District Chief Steve Leighton wrote, “Partnering with an organization which supports a policy in direct opposition to all Basin (and other local) fire agencies regarding the outdoor burning of solid fuels is counterintuitive to our mission. It not only enables a potential danger to our community; it is a source of embarrassment and a potential public relations nightmare for us and our colleagues at North Tahoe Fire.”

The state parks foundation first entered into the agreement in 2017.

“We thank the many volunteers, community business partners, and attendees who supported this event over the years enabling the Sierra State Parks Foundation to continue to provide welcoming and meaningful experiences at our local Lake Tahoe California State Parks,” shared Heidi Doyle, executive director of Sierra State Parks Foundation, in a statement with the Ink.

~ AH

Board of Supervisors Ratifies Local Emergency for Mosquito Fire

PLACER COUNTY

The Placer County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday ratified the county’s proclamation of a local emergency for the Mosquito Fire, as conditions continued to fuel fire growth into the evening. 

The board’s action ratifies a proclamation by the county’s director of emergency services made Sept. 7. 

Gov. Gavin Newsom also proclaimed a state of emergency for Placer and El Dorado counties due to the Mosquito Fire, and the state of California secured a Fire Management Assistance Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help ensure the availability of vital resources to suppress the Mosquito Fire.  

Since its start Sept. 6, the Mosquito Fire has burned 69,908 acres across Placer and El Dorado counties and destroyed 64 structures, including at least 10 residences in Placer County. More than 6,000 Placer residents remain under evacuation orders and warnings, of whom more than 100 have taken shelter at American Red Cross emergency centers since the start of the incident. Placer County Animal Services and partners continue to provide care and shelter to more than 350 evacuated pets and animals.  

Placer is preparing to support the fastest possible recovery for impacted residents. A recovery website has been established to share new information and resources as they’re made available at placer.ca.gov/mosquitofirerecovery. Residents can also sign up on the site for email notification of new developments. 

~ Placer County press release 

Tourism Master Plan Grant Application Period Now Open

NORTH LAKE TAHOE

Projects that benefit the North Lake Tahoe community and implement the Tourism Master Plan may have an opportunity to receive funding with Placer County’s 2022/23 Tourism Master Plan grant program.

The program supports the Tourism Master Plan, approved by the Placer County Board of Supervisors and North Lake Tahoe Resort Association Board of Directors in 2015.

The plan provides a road map for the investment in the community of the additional 2% transient occupancy tax that is charged in eastern Placer County.

TMP focuses on key priorities like connected trail systems throughout the region and facilities and amenities that support history, arts and culture.

To be eligible for this grant program, projects must be consistent with TMP priorities and demonstrate a public benefit. Applicants have until 12 p.m. on Oct. 14 to submit proposals.

The Capital Projects Advisory Committee, a 13-member group representing the broad economic and geographic interests throughout eastern Placer County, will evaluate project proposals based on how well they advance key community priorities outlined in the Tourism Master Plan. 

The committee makes recommendations to the Placer County Board of Supervisors on which projects should receive funding allocated from TOT collected from lodging guests in eastern Placer County. 

By long-standing policy, all TOT revenues collected in eastern Placer County are utilized to benefit eastern Placer County. Applications can be found here.

~ Placer County press release 

Lions Club Hosts Community Health Fair

TRUCKEE 

The Truckee Lions Club is hosting a community health fair that will offer free family health screenings from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 24 at the Truckee Community Recreation Center, 10981 Truckee Way. 

The health fair will include free vision, diabetes, and blood pressure screenings; free dental screenings and fluoride treatments offered for children; and free flu shots while supplies last. Lions in Sight of California and Nevada will provide free reading glasses to those who may need them, and Truckee Lions will give away organic produce to families who are screened at the health fair. Those who attend will leave with a confidential health checklist, and if requested, a list of referrals to medical resources in the area.

Community groups also will have informational booths. For example, the Truckee California Highway Patrol Office and the Truckee Police Department will team up to offer free child safety seat inspections and assistance with installations. The agencies also will give away free child safety seats if a new one is needed while supplies last.

Anyone with questions about the event can contact the Truckee Lions at (530) 563-6776.

The Truckee Host Lions Club is sponsoring the health fair as to give back to the community as the club celebrates its 90th anniversary

~ Truckee Host Lions Club

NEW LOCATION: UB40 show moves to Reno due to uncertainty of wildfire conditions. Courtesy graphic

Venue Change for UB40 Concert Due to Mosquito Fire

TRUCKEE/RENO

Late-Nite Productions will The 2022 Bigga Baggariddim Tour featuring UB40, The Original Wailers, Maxi Priest, and Big Mountain, live at the Grand Theater inside Grand Sierra Resort in Reno. The show is scheduled for Sept. 22 at 6 p.m. Advance tickets are available for $65 (plus tax/fees) at ticketmaster.com or through the Grand Sierra Resort Box Office. ($10 increase day of show.) All ages are welcome. 

With the current threat and uncertainty of the Mosquito Fire, the show’s producers had to make the executive decision to either cancel or move the concert, originally to be held at  Truckee River Regional Park. Grand Sierra Resort was able to accommodate  this event in the  Grand Theater without having to reschedule to show date..

UB40 are a reggae and pop band, formed in December 1978 in Birmingham, England. The band has had more than 50 singles on the UK Singles Chart, and has also achieved considerable international success. They have been nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Reggae Album four times, and in 1984 were nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Group. UB40 have sold over 70 million records worldwide.

~ Late-Nite Productions 

LAKE VIEW: Street view maps of the Lake Tahoe shoreline allow for a new way of exploring. Courtesy photo

First-Ever ‘Street View’ Style Map of Lake Tahoe’s Entire Shoreline

TAHOE CITY

The Tahoe Fund and EarthViews released the first-ever “Street View” style map of all 72 miles of Lake Tahoe’s shoreline. This new, interactive Lake Tahoe ShoreView Map offers a 360-degree view of the shoreline, as well as underwater views and water quality data. 

“This map allows people to see Tahoe like never before,” said Amy Berry, CEO of the Tahoe Fund. “You can tour Emerald Bay, ‘paddle’ through the iconic rocks of Sand Harbor, or explore the hidden beaches along the East Shore with just the click of a button. Best of all, this new tool is bringing a wealth of data and information to scientists and conservation organizations working to improve the health of the lake.” 

According to UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center, conditions differ widely around the lake’s nearshore — or the area ranging about 350 feet from the shoreline — due to variations in temperature, stormwater flow and runoff, aquatic invasive species, the effects of recreation, and fluctuation in lake levels. With these factors impacting water quality and the lake’s iconic clarity, it’s critical to closely monitor the conditions on the shoreline. 

To create this map, Brian Footen, president and co-founder of EarthViews, spent seven days circumnavigating the lake in a kayak, with cameras and water quality measurement tools strapped to the vessel. Using mobile mapping technology, Footen was able to capture synchronized imagery and data every 10 seconds as he navigated along the nearshore. This information was then published online as a street-view-like experience letting the user explore the shoreline from their desktop or mobile device.

The Tahoe Fund, a nonprofit organization that supports environmental improvement projects around the Tahoe Basin, provided the funding for the Lake Tahoe ShoreView Map. 

~ Tahoe Fund press release 

BOAT SMARTS: The end of the season means it’s time to think about pulling watercrafts off the lake and storing them the smart way. Courtesy photo

Wintering Up: A Checklist From Your United States Coast Guard Auxiliary

LAKE TAHOE

It’s been a fun season of boating, jet skiing, and paddling. As fall approaches, it’s time to get the watercraft back on shore. Here’s a checklist to assist you:

  • When hauling out, level the keel
  • Block the hull (if storing on a trailer, the same procedure for hauling out applies)
  • Clean the bottom
  • Wash the hull and deck with fresh water
  • Complete a detailed inspection of the interior and exterior
  • Drain the water system, use non-toxic antifreeze per your manufacturers guidelines
  • Fill fuel tanks and use a fuel stabilizer
  • Drain the bilge and then sponge any remaining fluids
  • Leave the plug out
  • Change the oil and filter
  • Follow the engine manufacturer’s instructions for winterizing
  • Remove the battery and store; consider a trickle charger for the off season
  • Remove all perishables
  • Remove all liquids that might freeze
  • Flush out the holding tank and add non-toxic antifreeze, if appropriate
  • Remove bedding, mattresses, life jackets, clothing. Clean and store in a well-ventilated area
  • Remove items that are movable: compass, navigation instruments, radiotelephone, oars (to decrease potential for theft)
  • Wipe down the interior
  • Remove floorboards so the bilge can stay dry
  • If the boat is to be covered, leave the engine cover off
  • Cover with a tarp and allow spaces for ventilation to prevent dry rot
  • Check for cover chafing
  • During the off season check the boat periodically, especially after storms

Checklist for kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddleboards (SUPs)

  • Check that the identification sticker is legible
  • Check integrity of the vessel
  • Check the status of the reflective stickers on paddles
  • Store in a dry, ventilated area upside down

It’s not too early to prepare for next year’s boating season. Consider having a Vessel Safety Check in the Spring of 2023 from your USCG Auxiliary Vessel Examiner.

~ Linda Ravetti, FSO-PA, FSO-PV

Business Briefs

FACE LIFT: Palisades Tahoe has replaced Red Dog chair for the upcoming season, among other updates, including the opening of the base to base Gondola. Courtesy photo

Upcoming Season at Palisades Tahoe

OLYMPIC VALLEY

For the second season under its new name, Palisades Tahoe will debut its new Base to Base Gondola, host the 2023 World Cup competitors, bring back fan-favorite events, and offer new upgrades, programs, and promotions for new and longtime visitors. Conditions permitting, the resort is scheduled to open on Nov. 22.

Slated to open for the 2022/23 season, the new Palisades Tahoe Base to Base Gondola will connect the two valleys of the resort, making Palisades Tahoe one of the largest ski resorts in North America. A realization of the founders’ original vision, the Base to Base Gondola offers newfound convenience and accessibility to the resort’s 6,000 acres and full spectrum of lifts, terrain, dining venues, and more.

After more than 30 years, the Red Dog Lift has been upgraded to a high-speed, six-seater with a new base terminal that offers direct access from the parking lot. The coming  season will also introduce an expanded and redesigned Funitel Plaza for easier lift access from the Village, a massive renovation of the Alpine Lodge, and the installation of new automatic snowmaking systems at Alpine.

One of just four U.S. stops on the international circuit this season, Palisades Tahoe will host the World Cup for the Men’s Slalom and Giant Slalom events from  Feb. 24 to 26, 2023. The course along Dog Leg and Red Dog Face, featured in 2017 for the World Cup Women’s Alpine Event, was described by Olympic champion Mikaela Shiffrin as “one of, if not the, toughest” venue on the World Cup circuit. Throughout the weekend, fans can catch all the action live from the base area, cheer on the world’s best athletes, enjoy outdoor concerts, fireworks, sponsor activations, and more.

~ Palisades Tahoe press release 

Auburn Ski Club Positions Itself to Expand Skiing to the Masses

DONNER SUMMIT

Auburn Ski Club Nordic Center is tackling a campaign to bring lighted cross country trails and extended operations in the Far West region. Plans are underway for the construction of a 2.1-km lighted loop on competition-grade trails with extended operations until 7:30 p.m. during the winter months.

The project is called A Place To Shine because the club is  excited to support its athletes in their endeavors to get sliding on snow and achieve their goals. Last year, ASC placed temporary lights out on the trails (1 km) and hosted a night race on New Year’s Eve to raise awareness for the project. ASC was very excited to have over 100 people show up in support of it. The goal is a 2 km lighted loop. Ground was broken for construction in late August, and light poles will start going up in the stadium area this fall. 

ASC believes this project will fundamentally change the nordic culture within the region and bring more skiers to snow for training and racing, expanding the pipeline and raising the level of competitive skiing for generations of nordic skiers. It also serves ASC’s mission to provide affordable year-round mountain sport experiences through programs, events, and facilities for all snow sport enthusiasts. ASC strives to be the West’s premier high-altitude training center and to inspire a life-long love of snow sports.

~ ASC Nordic Center 

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