Lake Tahoe Basin Management Plan Revision
Speak up to protect your recreation opportunity
This summer both the Forest Service, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU), and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) are revising their management plans for the Lake Tahoe Basin. This presents a unique opportunity for you to speak up and make your opinion count. The plans are intended to guide forest management for at least the next 15 years.
Forest management plans contain direction on how the Forest Service will manage the forest: what lands will be open to what uses and how the Forest Service will manage fuels reduction, developed facilities and public access. The TRPA plan contains general guidelines for the Lake Tahoe area, including defined objectives in a number of areas including air quality, water quality, noise and recreation.
Snowlands Network is advocating a number of improvements to each plan. Both plans fail to adequately address winter recreation issues.
The Forest Service fails to understand the importance of backcountry skiing and snowshoeing to forest users, as well as to local economies.
Thus, it is important that YOU tell the Forest Service that these issues – and winter travel management – are important to you. Somewhat incredibly, the Forest Service visitor tracking system fails to recognize either backcountry skiing or snowshoeing as separately significant activities, lumping them either with "cross-country skiing" or "other non-motorized use."
Comments to the Forest Service may be emailed to:
Include "Draft Land Management Plan" in the subject line of your email.
Comments may also be mailed to:
Draft Land Management Plan
35 College Drive
South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
What to write:
In your own words, making your comments as personal as possible, include:
- Give your name and address.
- Explain that you are commenting on the Draft Revised Land and Resource Management Plan.
- Explain your interest in the plan revision as it relates to winter recreation.
- Explain that the LTBMU is covered with snow for five months a year, that winter recreation is a major part of the Basin's use, and winter recreation contributes greatly to the local economy. Therefore the Draft Revised Plan must include winter recreation planning.
- Explain that the Forest Service process for measuring recreation visitor use is flawed because it does not separately look at backcountry skiing and snowshoeing as winter sports.
- Explain that the Forest Service must include the effects of snowmobile use in any analysis that looks at air and water quality.
- Explain that the use of snowmobiles is incompatible with clean and quiet winter recreation. Without winter recreation management snowmobiles will continue to displace non-motorized winter recreationist.
Below you will find additional information about both the Forest Service Plan, the TRPA Plan and Snowlands Networks' position on Wilderness designation.
The Forest Service is holding public meetings in July in the Lake Tahoe area. Snowlands and other groups are asking the Forest Service to hold additional meetings in Reno and the greater San Francisco Bay area. See the following website for more information about the Forest Plan.
See www.trpa.org for information on the TRPA planning process.
Forest Service Plan
Snowlands Network advocates that the Forest Service undertake winter travel management in the plan. Snowmobile usage in the Tahoe Basin is permitted everywhere – even cross-country – except where closed by Forest Order or on federally-designated Wilderness. Due to this non-management, and the fact that most skiers and snowshoers do not want to recreate in areas polluted with snowmobile exhaust and snowmobile noise, areas in the Tahoe Basin are being "taken over" by snowmobiles and made unsuitable for clean and quiet winter recreation. This trend will continue until the Forest Service acts to manage winter recreation. Winter is not a forgotten season in Tahoe, it is an important season and the Forest Service needs to stop ignoring winter in its management plan revision!
Specifically, Snowlands urges the Forest Service (i) to conduct winter travel management planning, (ii) to ban snowmobiles in areas heavily used by skiers and snowshoers, (iii) to improve access to clean and quiet winter forest lands, and (iv) to end its discriminatory treatment of winter lands – snowmobiles should NOT be allowed on lands designated in the plan as non-motorized!
Snowlands advocates that the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency adopt more realistic and meaningful thresholds for noise, air quality and water quality, that address the extreme amounts of pollution produced by snowmobiles. According to a 2002 EPA study, snowmobiles are the most highly-polluting recreational vehicle in common use, emitting one hundred times the amount of pollution emitted by automobiles. The discrepancy increases each year, as automobiles continue to be subject to increasing restrictions while snowmobile emissions are left largely unchecked. In 2002 the EPA mandated a modest reduction in snowmobile emission standards but snowmobiles continue to emit a hundred times the pollution emitted by a modern automobile. Be mindful of this the next time you encounter snowmobile exhaust; their carbon monoxide output is dangerous to your health! Snowlands Network advocates that TRPA ban the most highly-polluting snowmobiles from the Tahoe basin, in order to protect Lake Tahoe's clarity, in much the same way that TRPA prohibited 2-stroke jetskis.
Snowlands advocates Wilderness designation where appropriate; such designation forecloses mountain biking, which can be consistent with other clean and quiet uses. Winter travel management, treating snowmobiles comparable to other forms of motorized recreation, is the appropriate answer to the snowmobile problem.