Emerald Bay sailors can’t stay overnight: State parks to enforce ban on overnight mooring
Rangers will begin enforcing a years-old ban on overnight mooring in Emerald Bay and D.L. Bliss state parks, according to the California Department of Parks and Recreation. Boats must leave the bay by 9 p.m.
The move has thrown a few boaters off guard, who feel they have moored responsibly in the bay for decades.
Rangers have been handing out a notice to boaters at marinas entitled “News Release, No Overnight Mooring in Emerald Bay” informing them that the ban will be enforced because of liability and health issues, litter and to protect resources.
Ancient trees dating back thousands of years have been found at the bottom of the bay, as well as old shipwrecks. The shore of the bay is also home to the endangered Tahoe yellow cress.
“Recently, hundreds of pounds of litter have been removed by divers from the areas where boaters commonly moor overnight,” the notice says. Surveys have revealed significant damage to historical artifacts because of illegal anchoring, it says.
Lew Long, commodore of South Lake Tahoe Yacht Club, said with hundreds of boats entering the bay each day, it’s impossible to prove who is dumping litter or sewage. He also contends the ancient trees are deep enough to be far out of reach of boat anchors.
“In general the people who are spending the night are local people,” Long said. “They have respect for this lake and they are not going to dump their holding tanks.”
Long said the parks department told him they are concerned people are spending the night that do not have Coast Guard-approved holding tanks on their boats.
Jeff Herman, superintendent of the lake sector of the parks department, said verbal warnings have been issued in recent years, but now citations could be issued. A fine amount has not been determined.
He said it was not their intention to take the public off guard, but to work together to find a good solution.
“When people think of Lake Tahoe, they think of Emerald Bay,” Herman said. “It’s the ultimate resource we are here to protect and all these things that are happening are circumventing that.”
State regulations allow overnight camping only in designated areas, so the overnight ban is not specific to Emerald Bay.
Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations, section 4660 says a boat may not beach, land, moor or dock overnight except in areas designated and posted by the area manager.
Mooring is still allowed on the buoys near the boat-in campsites at the bay.
The parks department leases the land under the water of Emerald Bay from the California State Lands Commission, making Emerald Bay an “underwater park.”
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