Tahoe Officials to Remove Public Access to Jake’s Backcountry Skiing Zones

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Tahoe Area Backcountry Skiers and Riders | A Call To Action!

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 (Tahoe Regional Planning Agency) 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:

Shannon Friedman/Senior Planner TRPA/sfriedman@trpa.org/(775) 589-5205
Sue Novasel/El Dorado County Supervisor /bosfive@edcgov.us(800) 491-6642
Jennifer Montgomery/Placer County Supervisor/JMontgomery@placer.ca.gov
Joanne Marchetta/TRPA Executive Director/jmarchetta@trpa.org

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26 thoughts on “Tahoe Officials to Remove Public Access to Jake’s Backcountry Skiing Zones

  1. Hi,
    Good job calling people to action. It should have been done earlier during the public comment period, but it’s better late than never. The article’s insistence that trpa is uninformed to the wants or needs of locals is ridiculous though. If you know anyone that works at trpa, you’ll know that they too are locals with the best in mind, and often backcountry skiers! Don’t try to create a devil that doesn’t exist.

  2. Not sure who gets the blame, looks like both Caltrans and TRPA, maybe even Forest Circus being that the parking is used to impact Forest lands and Wilderness. But someone needs to call out TRPA for their misguided beliefs on protecting the lake. Curbs and gutters and sand vaults have been proven to be ineffective at doing anything positive for the lake. If TRPA really wanted to clean up the lake, there would be a ban on motorboats and leaf blowers in the basin. I still can’t see any reason to eliminate any of the parking areas – cost is minimal to lay down a little more asphalt and run a plow through there at the end of a storm.

  3. CalTrans proposes, TRPA approves. Simple. It’s not TRPA’s job to look after the interests of roadside parking for backcountry skiers. Where were all these voices during the public hearing process? Those who ’email sent’, did you bother to get any more facts or just swallow whole the vague, emotional article? It’s typical that people react instead of proact – but that laziness could end up costing in this case. That said, CalTrans put in curb for stormwater conveyance. Curbs. Not walls. Just drive over them. And I learned from TRPA that the curbs could be pulled out. But the curbs are in and CalTrans is like a machine that plows forward. Good luck getting them to backtrack.

    1. Well, if we don’t hear about it, then we don’t know about it. It’s not just driving over the curbs to park that’s the issue. It’s whether they plow a space for cars to park.

  4. As one who has skied the Sierra since the 1950’s, I find myself now in need of as much cross country terrain as I can get, as knees no longer do bumps. I am sure there will soon be many more like me, as I am the leading edge of the boomer generation. Highway 89 should not be just another pretty Disneyland ride for automobilists. We need access, please respect your local and global physically active tourists.

  5. It sounds like y’all are just sceptily whining about any development in the area. Give them a chance, from the sounds of their plan it appears MORE parking and access will be available. You can’t keep things the way they are forever, and if you are ACTUALLY from here you’d know the Cali roads around Tahoe blow majorly. Also, your article is poorly written. I had to read it twice and still found no direct point on location or specifically what parking would be eliminated. Vague bruh, vague and weak…

    1. This is a serious issue that has nothing to do with whining about development (If you want that go to unofficial alpine.) The article is clearly regarding the parking for the Jake’s Peak zone. If you don’t know where that is I question if you are ACTUALLY from here. Beat it kook…

  6. As an appraiser and advocate of TRPA, I think that one must look at the historical use, parking and impact any project has within the basin. I travel the west shore route frequently, and have witnessed all kinds of concerns for both TRPA and the public.

    I do think, that no matter how much one tries to control an area, there will always be those who “find a way”. The ones who park their 4×4’s over rocks, over ditches and in other areas, impact the roadway and ultimately the lake.

    Please consider, instead of trying to reduce the amount of parking in these sensitive areas, try to improve them. The more that the general public can safely enjoy the area, the more that property values will increase. The more the property values increase, the more money and effectiveness TRPA will play a role in these advances. So, to the contrary, the more one reduces parking in these areas, the more congestion, improper use and negative effects are portrayed upon the area also.

    TRPA has made great strides in protecting the lake, please do not underestimate the importance of continued improvement. You have the ability and the obligation to protect the Lake, please also consider your ability to recognize and not only maintain the public’s access, but improve it. Attempts at reduction, are likely to backfire, simply due to the public’s past use and obvious desire at continued use.

  7. TRPA has been caught ignorant with their pants down before. corrupt and ill informed, on the take and part of the old boys network. do you really think you can work with them? ha!

  8. Interesting issues raised here, but more info is needed to respond. I have no idea of where Jake’s is and I can’t send info on this topic based on that description.

    Some more specifics of “what to do” would be useful… Such as: Project # __________ along SR 89 Milepost X to Y… does not appear to be recognizing and accommodating long standing access to recreational opportunities in the ________ area that have been utilized by backcountry skiers and boarders, as well as Summer users. If the project were to specifically incorporate these traditional parking areas, public access would be maintained and improved consistent with the Goals and Policies or the Regional Plan.

    This is in language that “Planner Types” can’t really ignore and they are far more likely to react and respond to (I was a Planner in Tahoe for El Dorado Co and Sat on the Advisory Planning Commission and was involved in several planning efforts back in the early 90’s).

    Cara; while this particular issue is not located in Placer County, their Supervisor is on the TRPA Board and therefore is appropriate to contact them (along with TRPA and CalTrans). There will be similar issues within Placer Co., so what better way to get and keep them informed of these Basin-wide issues.

    Just thinking.

  9. Thanks for bringing attention to this matter. Backcountry skiers are people too. And a winter economic driver. I can’t even guess how many PDQ sandwiches I’ve purchased over the decades.

  10. thanks brennan (and of course mike)! writing trpa now and will head over to caltrans tomorrow to chat with our homies who hook us up with our tricky home plowing as well:)

  11. Thanks for the comment metres. However, respectfully, I don’t think the critique here is misdirected, but that’s not the point of this at all. Caltrans AND TRPA should be reaching out to the public more, for sure, but TRPA does have the power to have Caltrans save parking spots and/or add parking spots that have been taken away in this particular case, which is of central concern. Give Caltrans a call if you’d like-(916) 654-2852, but getting TRPA to act NOW is of paramount concern. Thanks for caring!

  12. Thanks for writing the article and bringing attention to this sad development and the trend of decreasing access for skiers and snowboarders to our public lands. And yes folks, please reach out. Based on the outcry thus far, CalTrans implemented one change last Friday, but more must be done.

    I can’t help but note that your ire seems somewhat misdirected: CalTrans designs and implements the project. TRPA does not. Yes, the project is designed to meet water quality improvement standards for Lake Tahoe that are set by TRPA, but the fault here lies with CalTrans. CalTrans should be the entity reaching out and getting public input. It’s their project. http://www.tahoeroads.com/docs/files/eagle%20falls(1).pdf (That said, it sure would be nice if TRPA was more actively on the side of outdoor recreationists!)

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