Forest Service closes campgrounds, day-use areas at Lake Tahoe due to extreme fire conditions

Campgrounds, day use areas and boat ramps have been closed in the Lake Tahoe Basin through Sept. 14.
Provided / LTBMU

Emergency fire restrictions are in effect throughout the Lake Tahoe Basin which includes closing campgrounds, day use areas and boat ramps.

An emergency camping ban went into effect Tuesday and will last through Monday, Sept. 14. The camping ban includes Luther Pass, Watson Lake, Meiss Country and Blackwood Canyon campgrounds and camping along the Tahoe Rim Trail. 

Overnight camping will still be permitted in Desolation Wilderness and within 500 feet of the Pacific Crest Trail, but no campfires, stoves or any kind of ignition sources are allowed.

All campgrounds and day use areas on all forest service land in the basin closed Monday evening, including Eldorado National Forest, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, Lassen National Forest, Plumas National Forest and Tahoe National Forest.

“These are extreme circumstances,” said Eldorado National Forest Supervisor Jeff Marsolais in a press release. “We have a Red Flag wind event in the forecast with vegetation conditions that are as flammable as they were during the 2014 King Fire. That fire ran 15 miles and burned over 50 thousand acres in a single day. Resources will be scarce with so many other large wildfires in California right now.”

The closure includes beaches of forest service land such as Kiva, Baldwin, Pope, Tallac Historic Site and Taylor Creek Visitor’s Center in South Lake Tahoe. These areas should not be accessed via bike or by walking. 

Officials say the ban will be re-evaluated as it is scheduled to end.

Trailheads can still be accessed according to the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Regional Order. People with permits may access roads, trails or areas restricted by the order.

A Red Flag Warning is in effect for the Tahoe Basin through Tuesday.

“The wildfire situation throughout California is dangerous and must be taken seriously,” said Randy Moore, regional forester for the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region.” Existing fires are displaying extreme fire behavior, new fire starts are likely, weather conditions are worsening, and we simply do not have enough resources to fully fight and contain every fire. We are bringing every resource to bear nationally and internationally to fight these fires, but until conditions improve, and we are confident that forest visitors can recreate safely, the priority is always to protect the public and our firefighters. With these extreme conditions, these temporary actions will help us do both.”

An example of extreme fire behavior is the Creek Fire on the Sierra National Forest which began on Friday, Sept. 4, and grew rapidly on Saturday, Sept. 5. The fire made a 15-mile run in a single day and burned 36,000 acres, prompting evacuations and life saving measures. The California National Guard evacuated at least 200 people from Wagner Mammoth Pool Campground and assessed them for medical needs.

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