Things might have gotten just a little out of hand this Fourth of July. The U.S. Forest Service is planning on banning alcohol completely on the beaches the agency manages on future Independence Day holidays.
“The reality is that when the open drinking creates this environment where it’s 100 percent party time, it really interferes with the public enjoyment of that area,” Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit forest supervisor Nancy Gibson said.
Certain beaches have been repeatedly problematic for the Forest Service. Next year, the agency hopes to nix drinking before it becomes a problem.
“We have instituted alcohol prohibitions over the Fourth of July on a variety of our other beaches,” Gibson said. “My sense this go around is we simply need to do that on all of our public access beaches for the Fourth of July holiday.”
With a crowd of more than 1,000 and widespread alcohol consumption, the South Shore’s Ski Beach is emblematic of the issue. Even though the Forest Service increased uniformed personnel at the site, the drinking still led to several incidents, Gibson said.
“Ski Beach continues to be problematic,” she said. “We had an event there where alcohol contributed to aggressive and untoward behavior from just a small minority of the public. But, now in my third year here, I’m seeing as very prevalent in that area.”
The issue at hand, Gibson added, is the public’s enjoyment of the area. Gibson received reports of families leaving the beaches due to intoxicated and out-of-control behavior, she said.
“There are those that imbibe responsibly and there are those that take it too far,” Gibson said. “We really want our public to enjoy their recreation experience on their beaches. That enjoyment really becomes challenged when their neighbor on the beach is acting in a way that is not publicly acceptable.”
Next year the agency will check for alcohol as people enter the beach areas and issue citations to people drinking on the beaches.
“At beaches where we have an alcohol ban, there’s a check going in,” said Forest Service spokeswoman Cheva Heck. “You sort of have a first line of defense there.”
The Forest Service has already banned alcohol on Nevada Beach, Zephyr Cove Resort, Zephyr Shoals and Chamber’s Landing. Next year’s Fourth of July prohibition will apply to Baldwin Beach, Ski Beach, Meeks Bay Beach, Skunk Harbor, Whale Beach, Secret Harbor, Chimney Beach, Kaspian, William Kent Shoreline, 64 Acres Beach, Pope Beach and Kiva Beach.
“We’re trying to avoid squeezing it to another location,” Heck said. “It’s appropriate for all of our beaches. If you want to enjoy alcoholic beverages, you’ll need to do it in another location.”