South Shore obstacle course event postponed
April 2, 2013
Event organizers have temporarily canceled Sierra Recon due to permitting issues, according to a post on the event's website.
Sierra Recon, a multi-distance obstacle race that drew hundreds of participants, debuted last year at Sierra-at-Tahoe. The obstacles included a 12-foot-high park feature called "The Wall" and a giant slip-and-slide.
The U.S. Forest Service Eldorado National Forest unit issued a special-use permit for Sierra Recon last year. But, according to Eldorado National Forest spokesman Frank Mosbacher, the 2012 application did not outline all the details of the July 14 event.
Sierra Recon included mud pits typically not approved on national forest land and not detailed in the initial proposal, Mosbacher said.
"The Sierra Recon that took place last year was not the same event that was described in the special use permit application," he said.
Sean Sweeney, event promoter and director of skier services at Sierra-at-Tahoe, said the resort and the Forest Service are still working together to move forward with the permitting process.
"I probably didn't disclose as much information as I should have in the application. It was a first-year event that grew a lot. It was really my fault as a first-time event promoter. I didn't understand the scope of what the permit meant," Sweeney said. "(The Forest Service) is just concerned about what type of impact (the event) has."
Sierra-at-Tahoe staff and Forest Service representatives will meet April 17 to discuss the permit. Sierra Recon could still occur this September, according to Sweeney.
Moving forward, Mosbacher said the agency would like Sierra Recon organizers to coordinate their event through the ski resort. Sierra-at-Tahoe could include Sierra Recon under the special-use permit that allows for summer operations, he said. While those additions would still have to be reviewed and approved separately, it would ensure a closer relationship with the resort, according to Mosbacher.
"It's primarily because of coordination. It makes sense that the coordination would be better if Sierra-at-Tahoe put it under their permit," he said.
According to Sierra-at-Tahoe's Director of Marketing Mindi Befu, the resort operates under a special-use permit that includes summer and winter operating plans.
"Sierra-at-Tahoe will continue to assess summer opportunities where appropriate. We have supported various summer events in the past, and would consider to do so again, based on meeting overall goals of the resort. Sierra is still in discussions with Sierra Recon about possibilities and options for an event," Befu wrote in an email.
The Forest Service treads lightly when it comes to ski resorts. The ski companies at Tahoe's South Shore operate on public land, but the facilities are privately owned. If Forest Service staff approve a third-party special use permit on a resort, they'll want to make sure the company is closely involved, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Special Uses Program Manager Jonathan Cook-Fisher said.
"There is the possibility of a stand-alone permit for this entity, but with a ski area, you have to be very careful," Cook-Fisher said. "Special-use permits are a tool. We can either issue one individually or under an existing one."
Under the LTBMU lands special uses application guidelines, event proposals are detailed analyses that cover everything from the scope of the project to compliance with land use planning to soil stabilization and rehabilitation.
After Forest Service staff receives the proposal, they compare it with screening criteria and then decide to approve or deny the permit, Cook-Fisher said.
Full refunds for all registered 2013 Sierra Recon participants will be sent out by April 1, according to the event website.
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