Dear Backcountry Community,
It is with great concern that I contact you today in regards to an issue that impacts us all-local backcountry access. Over the past decade we have watched countless access points around the Tahoe backcountry be taken away, from Rubicon Peak, to Fallen Leaf Lake and Mt. Tallac. While these issues have gone largely unresolved, backcountry skiers and riders are crafty. We all find a way to get to where we want to go regardless of threats to our community. However, I ask how many of you have heard about the proposed loss of parking and thus loss of access that is set to come as a result from the “improvements” to Highway 89 ?
It’s impossible that you haven’t dealt with construction issues in the Tahoe Basin over the past several months, and the work being done around Meeks Bay to Emerald Bay is part of the work in question here. What’s been proposed and allowed by our local land regulator TRPA will take away parking spots and access to Jake’s, one of the most used and classic backcountry skiing locales in our area. This action will negatively impact local businesses, foster safety issues, and ultimately affirms that the backcountry community has zero say as public community members in Tahoe because if it did, no member would ever sign on!
All TRPA has to combat our community with is the parking spaces in question creates coverage issues. For those of you who are unaware coverage translates to impacts to water clarity and quality for Lake Tahoe. We all care about that, and as someone that had their first job in Tahoe working for TRPA on these exact issues I promise you that whatever impact these spaces present, they have the ability to be mitigated. The fact that TRPA did not contact any member of the backcountry community to weigh in on this crucial issue speaks to how they view our voice at the table, and unfortunately, for those who are not well versed in local environmental issues, this is also a view into how TRPA continues to be disconnected from those of us who live and play in Tahoe year-round.
Whether you’re a 365 day a year local, or you come up to Tahoe for one special weekend a year this issue impacts you if you recreate and find inspiration in these mountains. It’s bad enough our voice has been squashed as year after year it’s gotten harder and harder to access our beautiful backyard. But this is the last blow. A few of us members of the backcountry community have become aware of the issue and have reached out to TRPA and others. As of today, we learned Caltrans, “made a plan change to pave a full 25 foot distance from the roadway (versus the 15 foot originally planned) in order to provide more parking opportunities to the public” based on one of the parking spots in question. Caltrans is who plows spots for us in the winter and is at the discretion of TRPA. This is a good step, but everything else we’ve heard has been that parking will be lost and access will be lost as a result of these “improvements”.
How Can You Help?
Simple. As soon as you’ve gotten to this point in the post send an email, make a call, or if you can, go visit TRPA. Just do it! The more TRPA and other parties hear we are in fact a community presence in Tahoe, and in fact one who cares about our local environment and community the better! All you need to do is quickly email or call if you can’t visit TRPA in person. It will take a few seconds out of your day, but that incremental act could lead to the cumulative change that is necessary for the huge winter we are in store for!
Here are the contacts of the people to email/call: