Campsites added to Tahoe City park plan |

Campsites added to Tahoe City park plan

Kara Fox

TAHOE CITY – After two hours of debate, the California State Park and Recreation Commission unanimously approved the Burton Creek State Park General Plan.

The Burton Creek plan has been a hot button issue for West Shore residents because it allows for future development of the park, including a campground and paved road to the campsites. This was the third draft plan, considered a compromise between the commission and residents. The action came down last week.

Ken Anderson, ecologist for state parks Sierra District, was happy about the approval, but said it may still be a long time before any work is done.

“There are no funds available to do anything right now,” he said. “If we got funding, the whole process starts over again.”

The 2,000-acre park is located on the northeast side of Tahoe City.

Twenty-three community members spoke on the issue, including members of local homeowners associations, conservation groups, local agencies and business owners. Those opposed to the plan argued a campground would increase traffic in Tahoe City, that campers would cause wildfires and attract bears – wildlife that live in the park would be pushed out and the air quality in the basin would worsen. They favored development for day-use or walk-in use.

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“A walk-in campground would reduce the impact in that area,” said Lynn Larson, a Martis Valley resident. “We must do all we can to protect natural resources while offering recreational opportunities.”

Those in favor of the plan noted that there are a lack of reasonably priced overnight facilities and campsites in the basin. Carol Hester, owner of Geared for Games in the Boat Works Mall, said such a facility would increase the economic growth in Tahoe City.

“I fully support having a campground here,” said Heidi Doyle, a self-proclaimed member of the “middle class,” who noted that her family had a difficult time finding campsites in Tahoe during a family reunion last summer. “We need to encourage people from Southern California and the inner city to enjoy our area and the way to do that is with campgrounds.”

Commissioner Sophia Scherman called the opponents “selfish,” saying that she found their comments offensive.

“You have to share the beauty you have,” said Scherman, who is also the mayor of Elk Grove. “Share this with the state of California. Don’t just keep it to yourself.”

Other commissioners echoed Scherman’s statement, noting that others in the state should have the opportunity to experience what Tahoe residents get to experience every day.

Acting Chairman Clint Eastwood (not the actor) said not everyone has the ability to hike or walk in to a campsite because of their age or abilities.

“The general consensus is we want to make the park accessible to all who can go there,” Eastwood said.