Desolation Wilderness managers are awarded for ‘leave no trace’ techniques |

Desolation Wilderness managers are awarded for ‘leave no trace’ techniques

Provided to the Tribune
Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune file/ Backpackers hike in Desolation Wilderness.

Managers of Tahoe’s Desolation Wilderness have earned a national award for wilderness stewardship and “leave no trace” techniques.

The Aldo Leopold Award for Overall Wilderness Stewardship Program is given out annually to national forests for excellence in wilderness management.

The award recognizes two arms of the Forest Service jointly responsible for Desolation Wilderness: the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit and the Eldorado National Forest. The award will be presented Sept. 13 in Washington D.C.

Desolation Wilderness was designated by Congress in 1969 and comprises 63,475 acres, or about 99 square miles. Because of its proximity to the Sacramento and Lake Tahoe areas, the wilderness area is one of the most heavily visited wilderness areas in the U.S. for its size, with approximately 120,000 visitors annually.

“The credit for the national award for wilderness stewardship should also go to the people who visit this outstanding scenic area located between Lake Tahoe and Sacramento,” said Jennifer Ebert, a Forest Service manager of Desolation Wilderness. “We are grateful for the people who come to Desolation who value wilderness and know how to use Leave No Trace techniques for both day and overnight use.”

Criteria for the award include: effectively protecting and enhancing the area’s wilderness character, resource planning that reflects the multiple-use mission of the Forest Service, public involvement and education, active research supporting management, active field presence of agency staff, and inclusion of fire as a component of the area’s ecosystem.

Wilderness areas in the United States receive some of the highest levels of protection for public land. Motorized or wheeled vehicles are prohibited, as well as resource extraction like logging or mining.

Managers restrict mechanized equipment and limit the number of people who can camp overnight in a particular area to provide a sense of solitude to visitors.

For more information on Desolation Wilderness, permits and reservations, or other recreation opportunities, go to

California has just over 13 percent of the total lands in the National Wilderness Preservation System. Currently, the NWPS has 106,619,208 acres, and in California there are 14,085,258 acres of federal wilderness.

Those planning on staying overnight in Desolation Wilderness must obtain permits during business hours from Pacific Ranger District or the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Supervisor’s Office in South Lake Tahoe. Day visits are not limited in Desolation, day visitors are required to register their trip at a trailhead.

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