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Big Labor Day crowd expected

by Andy Bourelle

With large numbers of visitors expected to come to Lake Tahoe this weekend, law enforcement agencies are asking people to be careful, follow Lake Tahoe laws and be patient and courteous when driving.

“The (Douglas County) sheriff’s department’s interest is to make the weekend safe for everyone,” said Sgt. Lance Modispacher. “As long as everyone follows the rules, we’ll have no problem. Everyone will have a great time.”

Increased police officers on patrol can be expected.

“We’re going to be out in force,” said Commander Rich McGuffin of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department. “We’re certainly going to have a no-tolerence position in regards to alcohol, drunk driving and people who are drinking and misbehaving.”

According to the California Highway Patrol, last year more than 1,600 people were arrested throughout the state for driving under the influence. Forty-four people died during the 78-hour Labor Day weekend from traffic accidents.

“Labor Day is usually one of the worst holidays of the year for accidents,” said Lt. Marty Whited, commander of the South Lake Tahoe CHP office. “The summer is ending, and everybody wants to squeeze in one last excursion before the September school-and-work routine sets in.”

CHP will have a “maximum enforcement period” starting at 6 p.m. Friday and ending Monday at midnight.

Stemming from problems on the Fourth of July, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Forest Service are prohibiting alcohol at Nevada Beach in Round Hill.

“What we want to do is make it a pleasant experience on the beach for the people who go there,” said Lisa O’Daly from the U.S. Forest Service.

On July 4 of this year, several young adults were under the influence of alcohol and caused major disturbances such as throwing bottles and fighting. Numerous arrests were made.

The alcohol prohibition is only for Sunday, the day of the fireworks over Lake Tahoe, and does not affect the campground area.

DCSO deputies will be patrolling the area, and an alcohol check will be stationed at the entrance to the beach area. Violators will receive a citation or be asked to leave the area.

“It won’t just be at the beach. We’ll have double the patrols out this weekend,” Modispacher said. “Many (DCSO) officers have had their days off canceled due to the holiday this weekend.”

Douglas and El Dorado counties and the South Lake Tahoe Police Department have patrol boats which will be patrolling the lake.

Additionally, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency wants to remind boaters for the holiday weekend that Lake Tahoe’s no-wake zone is 600 feet.

TRPA has enacted the 600-foot-wake zone to help control the noise and other impacts of motorized watercraft on the shoreline.

Speeds in excess of 5 mph are prohibited inside the zone. Boaters are asked to look at the buoys that mark 200 feet – the old standard – and estimate three times that distance.

Traveling through the no-wake zone at 5 mph, according to TRPA, should take under 90 seconds.

“By taking just a few extra minutes out of their entire boating day, users of motorized watercraft can help make recreation at Lake Tahoe enjoyable for everyone, including those people who just relax on the beach or use non-motorized watercraft,” said TRPA Executive Director Jim Baetge. “We urge everyone who will enjoy all that Lake Tahoe has to offer this weekend to consider what makes this natural resource so unique and observe all the rules that are designed to keep it that way.”

Traditionally, there have been few problems on Labor Day weekend, according to McGuffin. However, police are not taking any chances.

“We don’t anticipate any problems, but we’ll certainly be prepared,” he said. “Last Labor Day was not a problem, but we do expect more folks this year.”

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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