19th Annual Tahoe Bike Month Gets Rolling June 1

19th Annual Tahoe Bike Month Gets Rolling June 1

A Bike Kitchen event during Tahoe Bike Month helps tune bikes while giving free lessons on mechanics and tuning. 

 

Lake Tahoe, Nev./Calif. – The 19th annual Tahoe Bike Month begins June 1 with a full month of bicycling events throughout the Lake Tahoe Basin, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) and the Tahoe Bicycle Coalition announced today. Bike Month is a basin-wide celebration of biking and a friendly competition to see which individuals and teams can record the most rides with weekly prize drawings for everyone who records a ride online.

“There is always a swell of regional support for bike month in Tahoe” TRPA Transportation Planner Ryan Murray said. “We are excited to continue collaboration with the Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition and our regional partners to encourage more people to get out of their personal automobiles and onto bicycles, particularly as the weather improves into the summer months.”

Community members who want to join the friendly competition can register at www.tahoebikemonth.org and connect their account with the Strava app for free to track bike rides throughout the month. Participants can join as individuals or create a team and start recording rides. Each recorded ride during the month of June is an entry to win local prizes.

Whether you’ve been riding a bicycle for years or are new to the joy of life on two wheels, TRPA and the Bicycle Coalition invite everyone to pump up their tires and join a great lineup of events:

  • June 1st – Truckee Day Cleanup from 8 a.m. to noon. Ride your bike to the cleanup to get a prize. More information is at keeptruckeegreen.org/volunteer/truckee-day-volunteer/.
  • June 4th – Annual bike path cleanup in South Lake Tahoe from 5:00 to 7:30 p.m. followed by a happy hour at The Hangar. More information is at keeptahoeblue.org/events-activities-lessons/bike-path-cleanup-june-4-2024/.
  • Bike, Walk, and Roll to School Days. Volunteers will be passing out prizes to students who walk or ride to participation schools including:
    • Incline Elementary and Middle schools
    • Tahoe Lake Elementary
    • Kings Beach Elementary
    • Tahoe Valley Elementary
    • Meyers Elementary
    • Bijou Community School
    • Sierra House Elementary
    • South Tahoe Middle School
    • South Tahoe High School
  • Bike Kitchen events will teach mechanic and tuning skills to riders while they receive complimentary service on their bicycle:
    • June 3 at Bijou Community Park
    • June 12 at Alibi Ale Works in Truckee
    • June 27 at The Hangar in South Lake Tahoe

“You don’t have to be a pro cyclist to enjoy pedaling around Tahoe – it’s a healthy way of life!” said Nick Speal, president of the Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition. “We encourage kids, families, visitors, and residents to join us on our wonderful bike paths throughout the month of June and beyond.”

Bike Month organizers encourage everyone to watch a short video to get their bike ready to roll and to remember to share the road when driving and biking around the region. Cyclists and drivers need to make sure to give enough space for one another. For more information on Tahoe Bike Month, visit www.tahoebikemonth.or

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With a mission to help make Tahoe more bicycle friendly, the Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to promoting bicycling, bike events, and new bicycle infrastructure such as bike paths and bike lanes throughout the Tahoe region. Learn more at tahoebike.org.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency leads the cooperative effort to preserve, restore, and enhance the unique natural and human environment of the Lake Tahoe Region, while improving local communities, and people’s interactions with our irreplaceable environment.

Historic Lake Tahoe Land Acquisition Bolsters Restoration and Lake Clarity Goals

Historic Lake Tahoe Land Acquisition Bolsters Restoration and Lake Clarity Goals

Nearly 1,100 acres of disturbed stream zones have been restored in the Lake Tahoe watershed. The purchase of 31 acres on the Upper Truckee River is expected to surpass the initial goal set more than 40 years ago.

 

By Julie Regan

You may know that Lake Tahoe’s only outlet is the Truckee River at the historic dam in Tahoe City on the lake’s north shore. Behind the dam and well over a mile above sea level is America’s second deepest lake. Less known is that there are an incredible 63 tributaries feeding into the 190-square-mile lake. For thousands of years, most of these alpine streams meandered through meadows and marshes, the natural filters that helped create one of the clearest lakes in the world. Logging, ranching, and unplanned development severely damaged many of these critical areas, until 1969 when the Lake Tahoe Basin came under the protection of the bi-state Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA).

Since then, environmental agencies have pursued the vision of removing development from sensitive lands and restoring them to a more natural state. That’s why the California Tahoe Conservancy’s recent acquisition of 31 acres along the Upper Truckee River in South Lake Tahoe is a reason to celebrate. State and regional partners have worked for decades to purchase this pivotal piece of property and to add it to the 9,000 private parcels that have been acquired and protected as open space. Today, nearly 90 percent of the land in the Tahoe Basin is publicly managed for restoration, conservation, or recreation.

The $15.6 million purchase shows how environmental improvements and sustainable development are being harmonized in the Tahoe Basin. For decades, mitigation fees collected through the TRPA permit process for redevelopment and construction projects have contributed directly to environmental improvements. TRPA was able to contribute $3.5 million of these funds to the Conservancy’s purchase that represent the contributions of many private landowners. Mitigation funds have also helped the Nevada Division of State Lands to make similarly large acquisitions and to remove more than 600,000 square feet of impervious land coverage located in sensitive lands.

The Motel 6 acquisition and restoration will restore the natural pollution filters back to this section of the Upper Truckee River and tie into rehabilitation projects on hundreds of acres north and south of the site.

A cornerstone of TRPA’s Regional Plan is to address the impacts of homes, businesses, and roadways that were established before today’s growth management system and water quality protections. The vast majority of Lake Tahoe’s development happened before it was fully understood how its legendary clarity could be affected. The basin’s marshes and meadows were damaged or destroyed by various uses, causing erosion while also robbing these areas of their ability to filter runoff. Further upland, stormwater tainted by sediment and contaminants from parking lots, pavement, and rooftops flowed unfiltered into the lake.

Although in the 1980s TRPA capped the amount of future development in the basin and set high environmental standards for new construction, the depth of the lake’s clarity continued to decline by about a foot per year. Within the other 10 percent of the watershed, owners of older properties were finding it impossible to remodel, expand, or renovate under the many restrictions while also investing in stormwater improvements and environmental mitigation fees. Major improvements were needed from the public and private sectors to reverse not just water quality impacts, but to improve forest health, transportation, recreation, scenic resources, and more.

The Lake Tahoe Environmental Improvement Program, or EIP, began addressing this challenge in 1997. Under the program, more than 20,000 property owners, from cabins to casinos, have completed stormwater and erosion control measures. Public agencies have updated 840 miles of roadway to control erosion and stormwater pollution. Thanks to land acquisitions and public and private restoration projects, the longstanding goal of restoring 1,100 acres of stream zones has nearly been achieved and TRPA is working with science partners to set a new target to continue wetland restoration.

TRPA and our EIP partners will continue seeking restoration opportunities, yet we must also recognize that well-planned redevelopment can be used for good. Incentives added to the Regional Plan in 2012 allow property owners in Tahoe’s town centers to purchase development rights from restoration projects like the Motel 6 acquisition and use them for affordable housing and other kinds of projects. When existing development rights are transferred into town centers, they improve walkability, reduce traffic, make our towns more vibrant, and give property owners the financial security to install stormwater improvements.

When we take in all that Tahoe has to offer, it is important to see its environmental qualities as well as the public-private partnerships at work. Unlike a national park or wilderness area, it takes innovative policies to preserve the watershed and address past harms while revitalizing communities. Lake Tahoe can serve as a model for other regions seeking to harmonize the natural and built environments. As we have proven over the decades, they can go hand in hand.

Julie Regan is Executive Director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.
Staying Tahoe Strong this Wildfire Season

Staying Tahoe Strong this Wildfire Season

By Julie Regan

The warming weather and rapidly melting snow around Tahoe are welcome signs that summer is on its way. As wet and green as things are, now is the time to be extra vigilant and to prepare for wildfire season. Meteorologists are predicting that temperatures this summer could be even higher than last year’s record-breaking heat, which could increase wildfire danger as well. Living at home in the forest comes with the understanding that it isn’t a question of if, but when the next wildfire will occur.

According to the Sierra Nevada Conservancy, over the past 120 years only six fires have burned more than 200,000 acres in the Sierra Nevada, and all of them happened within just the last 14 years. As I think back to the 2021 Caldor Fire, visions surface of thick smoke, orange skies, and evacuating from my Christmas Valley home as the fire burned its way toward Lake Tahoe. Although the Caldor’s destruction was greatest outside the Tahoe Basin, it burned close to 10,000 acres in the southern watershed, making it the largest fire ever recorded at Tahoe. Tahoe Strong is the rallying cry from the fire that continues to give me a greater sense of purpose in preparing for wildfire.

Preparedness

May is Lake Tahoe Wildfire Awareness Month, and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) has worked with our partners on the Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team to line up free resources and public events to help everyone get prepared by signing up for emergency alerts, preparing personal evacuation plans, and learning how to reduce wildfire risk around homes and neighborhoods.

Evacuation planning is progressing at the regional scale as well. The recent tragedy in Maui and our own experience during the Caldor Fire evacuation have heightened public safety concerns. With this awareness at the forefront, TRPA has secured $1.7 million in federal funding to facilitate with our partners integrated evacuation planning and critical upgrades to our communications and transportation infrastructure during emergencies.

We also understand that this process must consider Tahoe’s most vulnerable community members, many of whom do not have access to a car during an evacuation. Last year, TRPA gained valuable insights to the needs of underrepresented residents through the first Transportation Equity Study ever conducted for Lake Tahoe communities. The award-winning study and the connections we developed with underserved communities will help emergency management agencies prioritize the safety of all who call Lake Tahoe home.

Progress Toward Forest Resilience

The Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team is leading the way in collaborative, multi-jurisdictional forest management. Following the 2007 Angora Wildfire, TRPA joined basin fire agencies in forming the group to help improve coordination, increase the pace of forest fuel reduction projects, and streamline homeowner defensible space.

The strengthening of regional collaboration has delivered substantial progress. Since 2008, more than 75,000 defensible space inspections have been conducted, 72,000 acres of forest have been treated for fuel reduction, and nearly every USDA Forest Service or state-owned conservation lot in the Tahoe Basin has received initial treatment for fuel reduction. Landscape-scale restoration strategies such as the 59,000-acre Lake Tahoe West Restoration Partnership are coming forward to treat much larger, interconnected areas and incorporate water quality and recreation improvements with greater protection for communities.

Confronting Challenges Ahead

Higher temperatures, megafires, and prolonged drought are changing the ecosystem and the stakes have never been higher for the lake and our communities. In coordination with the Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team, we are working toward the target of treating an additional 9,000 acres near communities in the Wildland Urban Interface by 2025. TRPA is also helping accelerate projects to upgrade water supply infrastructure to fight fire and prioritizing forest fuel reduction along Lake Tahoe’s evacuation corridors.

Continuing to bring critical resources and funding for this work is a major priority as well. Since 2010, $167 million has gone into forest health projects in the basin and a key piece of legislation could expire this year that has provided a significant source of federal funding. TRPA and a coalition of Lake Tahoe supporters are working with Lake Tahoe’s Congressional delegation to extend the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act, which could unlock an additional $300 million for priority restoration projects at Tahoe.

Wildfire awareness and preparedness will help keep us Tahoe Strong. Visit Tahoelivingwithfire.com to learn more.

Julie Regan is Executive Director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

Image above: A surface fire on the 2021 Caldor Fire burning at lower intensity. Credit CALFIRE Official 

New Online Dashboard Tracks Tahoe’s Climate Resilience

New Online Dashboard Tracks Tahoe’s Climate Resilience

Caption: The frequency of low water episodes at Lake Tahoe appears to be increasing according to the UC Davis Environmental Research Center. Prolonged drought has dropped the surface of Lake Tahoe below its natural rim 6 times since 2004.

 

Lake Tahoe, Nev./Calif. – The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) launched an online Climate Resilience Dashboard this week to monitor and record progress on climate action strategies that will help guide the long-term health of the Lake Tahoe watershed and safety of its communities, according to the agency.

The dashboard, funded by the California Tahoe Conservancy and TRPA, pulls together regularly collected data from diverse sources and displays them in relation to their role in climate resilience. For example, the dashboard tracks the resilience of Lake Tahoe’s transportation system by reporting total transit ridership, equitable access to transportation, miles of bike and pedestrian facilities, a breakdown of people’s transportation choices, and the availability of electric vehicle charging stations. The information will help full- and part-time residents, businesses, and Lake Tahoe Environmental Improvement Program partners measure the results of climate actions.

Climate resilience refers to how well prepared Lake Tahoe’s ecosystem, infrastructure, and communities are for continued temperature increases, changing weather patterns, and climate hazard events. This includes local actions needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollution.

“Lake Tahoe is already experiencing the impacts of climate change and we must keep making progress as a region to confront emerging threats to the lake and reduce the vulnerability of our communities,” TRPA Executive Director Julie Regan said. “Science, research, and data are essential for decision makers, residents, and property owners to lead the region into a more resilient climate future.”

The Climate Resilience Dashboard tracks progress across four long-term goals and associated indicators. TRPA and more than 80 partner organizations are implementing climate projects through the Environmental Improvement Program and the Climate Resilience Action Strategy to better prepare for climate hazard events such as wildfire, prolonged drought, and extreme weather events. The dashboard also includes recommendations on actions individuals can take to get involved in building a more resilient Lake Tahoe.

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The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency leads the cooperative effort to preserve, restore, and enhance the unique natural and human environment of the Lake Tahoe Region, while improving local communities, and people’s interactions with our irreplaceable environment. For additional information, contact Jeff Cowen, Public Information Officer, at (775) 589-5278 or jcowen@trpa.gov.

Earth Day Brings Community and Environment Together

Earth Day Brings Community and Environment Together

By Cindy Gustafson

The commitment we all share to protect and restore Lake Tahoe exemplifies the very essence of Earth Day. The global event celebrates actions big and small to save our planet and expresses the interconnectedness of people, communities, and the environment.

Cared for by the Washoe Tribe for generations, today the watershed is nearly 90 percent public land and shared by two states, five counties, one city, and the Washoe Tribe, as well as 55,000 full-time residents, thousands of part-time homeowners, and millions of visitors annually. Unlike an untrammeled wilderness, protecting and restoring Lake Tahoe means harmonizing the natural and human environments. The states of Nevada and California established a collaborative, regional framework nearly 55 years ago through the Tahoe Regional Planning Compact—an act that in some ways embodied the environmental movement. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) and the Bi-State Compact share their anniversary with Earth Day.

A top priority for TRPA and the agency’s 15-member Governing Board is to achieve watershed restoration and lake clarity goals while supporting vibrant communities. Staying true to its mandate, TRPA is guiding environmental progress while providing for orderly growth and maintaining caps on development in the region. Through the Lake Tahoe Environmental Improvement Program, more than 80 partner organizations are completing major environmental restoration, forest health, and transportation improvements, which in turn are being met with stormwater and erosion control improvements on private properties in the basin.

The Lake Tahoe Regional Plan also provides incentives for environmental redevelopment to guide more of Tahoe’s remaining development rights into town centers to improve walkability, support transit, and provide more workforce housing. This triple bottom line approach is not just desirable but essential in a place like Lake Tahoe, where the environment and communities are reliant on one another.

Even as the Tahoe Basin faces new challenges, the Governing Board and agency leadership are keeping the big picture in focus. The new Destination Stewardship partnership is working to improve the way outdoor recreation and tourism are managed so that the lake, residents, and visitors all together benefit from the region’s main economic driver. Also, transportation partners are expanding microtransit programs and advancing projects like the Chimney Beach trailhead parking improvement project on the East Shore and a new segment of the North Tahoe Shared Use Trail between Kings Beach and Carnelian Bay. These and many other projects are reducing climate-harming emissions, improving air quality, and providing safer options to get to work and school.

Tahoe is also a place where workers, families, entrepreneurs, and adventure-seekers come to put down roots and become the next generation of Lake Tahoe’s keepers, which makes the deepening crisis of affordable and workforce housing all the more troubling. The lack of affordable housing options has led to increased commuter traffic and vehicle emissions as well as substandard living conditions and hardships for essential workers. To better serve the lake and ensure Tahoe’s workers can afford to live in the basin, a host of affordable housing initiatives are being pursued throughout the region. For its part, TRPA has been guiding a public process to modernize land use polices that aim to reduce housing costs while supporting lake clarity improvements.

Since the first Earth Day, the Bi-State Compact protecting Lake Tahoe has shown not only how we can preserve this special landscape, but how we can be a part of it too. By supporting environmental redevelopment, revitalizing communities, and embracing collaborative restoration projects, we can ensure that Lake Tahoe remains a shining example of environmental stewardship for years to come.

From the regional scale to our own daily decisions, there is more we can all do. Take Care Tahoe is leading the Tahoe Earth Week Challenge next week with a schedule of simple actions you can follow every day to help make Tahoe and the world a better place. There are festivals you can attend including Tahoe-Truckee Earth Day April 20th at the Village at Palisades Tahoe and South Lake Tahoe Earth Day April 27th at Lake Tahoe Community College. Join in to experience how each of us can take steps to reduce our individual impact and help our communities match our incredible natural surroundings.

–Cindy Gustafson is Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Governing Board Chair and Placer County District 5 Supervisor.

Nominations Open for Best in Basin Awards

Nominations Open for Best in Basin Awards

Image: Natural buffers separate a stormwater infiltration pond and manicured links at Edgewood golf course in Stateline, Nev. The 2016 Best in Basin winner filters stormwater from a public highway while also protecting the pond from fertilizers. 

31st annual awards program recognizes environmental achievements that protect Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe, Calif./Nev. – The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) is calling for nominations for projects that display outstanding environmental design for the 31st Best in Basin awards, the agency announced today. Projects must have been completed in 2022 or 2023. Nominations are due by May 17 at 5:00 p.m. Use this Nomination Form to submit an outstanding project.

TRPA’s annual Best in Basin awards program showcases projects and programs around the lake that demonstrate exceptional planning, implementation, and compatibility with Tahoe’s natural environment and communities. The categories are:

  • Water Quality and Watershed Restoration
  • Climate Resilience and Sustainability
  • Affordable Housing and Community Revitalization
  • Transportation and Sustainable Recreation
  • Forest Health and Defensible Space
  • Science and Innovation

For more than three decades, Best in Basin awards have recognized property owners, contractors, architects, and planners in both the public and private sectors whose work and investment stand out as excellent examples of environmental design in the Tahoe Basin.

Only projects completed between January 1, 2022 and December 31, 2023 are eligible. Winners will be selected by a panel of local professionals in the fields of architecture, landscaping, planning, engineering, or resource management. For the nomination form and information about past winners, visit the Best in the Basin webpage.

 

The Burke Creek Phase 1 stream restoration project near Stateline, Nev. freed 200 feet of the creek from an underground culvert. *2016 Best in Basin Award
Image credit: Nevada Tahoe Conservation District

 

Image: Native and adaptive plants surround a renovated historic residence on the West Shore. *2019 Best in Basin Award
Image credit: John and Heather Mozart

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The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency leads the cooperative effort to preserve, restore, and enhance the unique natural and human environment of the Lake Tahoe Region, while improving local communities, and people’s interactions with our irreplaceable environment. For additional information, contact Jeff Cowen, Public Information Officer, at (775) 589-5278 or jcowen@trpa.gov.