Wins, delays in Tahoe public winter lands access

Wins, delays in Tahoe public winter lands access
One of the things I’m passionate about and have committed our resources of time and money to covering is public land access in the Tahoe Sierra. We live and recreate in a unique mountain environment surrounded by public lands held in trust by federal, state and local agencies, as well as nonprofit land trusts.

While locals and visitors alike enjoy easy, free access to these lands for part of the year, for nearly half of each year when these places are covered in snow, the public has little access to these lands. Parking lots aren’t cleared of snow, backcountry users can’t park on public streets, public transit doesn’t offer stops at backcountry trailheads, restrooms are shuttered for the winter and few spots offer trash service.

In our public access reporting since 2014, Forest Service officials have admitted that parking areas weren’t built for snow removal and would require rebuilding them to do so, and funds aren’t available to provide snow removal, trash service or staffing despite the fact that our region has seen demand for winter recreation access grow over the last decade. A lack of action on the part of federal land managers spurred the creation of the Tahoe Backcountry Alliance in 2015 to try to solve some of these issues.

The TBA has proven that solutions do exist, as Sean McAlindin writes in his annual “State of the Backcountry.” TBA has negotiated public parking access at trailheads and funded a shuttle service. Kudos to TBA for stepping up for our community.

On another front for winter lands access is the requirement for all Forest Districts to update its over-snow vehicle (OSV) plans. Districts around the Tahoe Sierra have been at the forefront of these efforts to craft new rules for snowmobiles and other motorized vehicles for winter lands access, but they have been slow to act. Read the latest on the plans from the seven districts in and around Tahoe thanks to Sean McAlindin’s in-depth reporting in “Snowmobile policy changes inch ahead.”

Arts coverage in jeopardy
This edition marks our 42nd anniversary of our first publication on Feb. 18, 1982, and, sadly, will be the last time our regular arts feature will appear. I’ve had to make some hard choices of late and that includes cutting our regular arts profile that we have featured for the last 10 years. We’re looking for sponsors to maintain regular coverage of local arts events and news, and to fund an arts feature writer.

I’m grateful to the more than two dozen supporters who have joined our Patron Circle to support our work, but it’s not been enough to keep our arts section. If you’re interested in supporting our arts coverage, read more about how to help here or become a member.

As well, this will be our only winter edition. Our spring edition will publish on March 27.