Forest Service urges everyone to recreate responsibly during Labor Day weekend

Submitted to the Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – With the arrival of Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer is here, and the USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit reminds visitors to recreate responsibly by planning ahead, following fire restrictions, leaving areas free of litter and being a good steward of the forest.

The Tallac Historic Site, Taylor Creek Visitor Center, and Forest Supervisor offices will be closed on Monday, Sep. 4, 2023, in observance of Labor Day. Chimney Beach Trailhead parking area on the East Shore is temporarily closed for construction.

In addition to year-round restrictions, enhanced fire restrictions are now in effect on National Forest lands in the Lake Tahoe Basin and will remain in effect through the end of December 2023, or until rescinded. Under enhanced fire restrictions, wood and charcoal fires are no longer permitted in Blackwood Canyon, Luther Pass and Watson Lake campgrounds. Year-round fire restrictions permit wood and charcoal fires within permanent metal fire rings in developed campgrounds such as Fallen Leaf and Nevada Beach. Portable stoves with on/off valves are allowed in other areas with a valid permit. Even with forecasted cooler temperatures and possible precipitation, vegetation remains very dry and fire danger is high. Fire restrictions will be enforced regardless of the cooler weather.

Litter and debris left behind is a human health hazard and harmful to wildlife. It also degrades Lake Tahoe’s water quality. Become part of the solution and always carry a trash bag in case trash cans and dumpsters are full or not available. We all have a responsibility to care for and sustain the places we love. Be a good steward and always pack out your trash!

Visitors are encouraged to prepare themselves and others as they plan to visit and enjoy their public lands. The following tips were provided by Forest Service recreation and public service specialists based on common situations seen on California National Forests.

  • Plan for cool weather, cold nights: The National Weather Service forecast for the Tahoe Basin this weekend includes a chance of rain, breezy conditions, and low temperatures in the upper 30s. Campers should prepare for cold temperatures at night by bringing clothing and supplies to stay warm and dry.
  • Conserve water wisely: Always bring enough water when recreating outdoors and ensure all spigots and valves are tightly turned off at recreation sites and pumps to protect limited water supplies.
  • Note hazard trees: Falling trees are an ever-present hazard when hiking and camping in National Forests. Be aware of your surroundings, including high winds and avoid parking or camping where damaged trees are present.
  • Reserve campsites in advance: Lake Tahoe campgrounds are very popular this time of year. Be sure to reserve a spot in advance and remember dispersed camping, also known as car camping or overnighting, is not permitted in the Lake Tahoe Basin.
  • Leave your campsite cleaner than you found it: Protect wildlife and water bodies by using trash receptacles correctly. Look around for and remove dropped items, like trash and toys.
  • Leave fireworks at home: All personal use fireworks are illegal on public lands because of the wildfire danger they pose to our communities and forests. Leave the personal use fireworks at home.
  • Keep Tahoe bears wild: Bear canisters are required for overnight visitors to Desolation Wilderness and are highly encouraged in other backcountry areas. Be sure to remove all food, garbage, and scented items from vehicles before heading out on the trail. In campgrounds, store all food and scented items in bear resistant containers (storage lockers/bear boxes), properly dispose of trash in dumpsters or trash receptacles, and close and lock these containers. Learn more about Keeping Tahoe Bears Wild.
  • Respect rules for dogs: Please respect the rules on where dogs are allowed. Dogs are not permitted on National Forest designated swim areas including Baldwin, Meeks Bay, Nevada, Pope, and William Kent beaches. Learn more about Dogs at Lake Tahoe.
  • Respect rules for eBikes: Please be courteous to hikers and other bicyclists and respect the rules on where eBikes are allowed. Motor assisted bicycles (eBikes) are allowed on National Forest trails that are designated for motorized use. For more information, take a look at the LTBMU Motor Vehicle Use Maps.
  • Recreate responsibly in the Caldor Fire area: Recreationists should use caution when accessing the 2021 Caldor Fire area. Burned landscapes present numerous safety hazards that either did not exist prior to the fire or have been worsened by the effects of the fire. Be on the lookout for burned or falling trees and limbs, ash pits, burned stump holes, and root chambers. Read more about Caldor Fire Area Safety Tips.
  • Be aware of fuels reduction and powerline projects: Numerousfuels reduction (forest thinning) and powerline maintenance projects are underway on public lands in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Recreationists should use caution when accessing project areas where crews and heavy equipment are working and be aware of helicopter operations around powerlines. 
  • Practice backcountry safety: Backcountry enthusiasts should always tell a family member or friend where they are going, when they expect to return, then stick to the plan. Always check weather before heading out. Sturdy footwear, proper clothing and gear is essential, and an old-fashioned paper map and compass can come in handy. Always travel with a buddy, never alone. Keep in mind that mobile devices may not work in remote areas. Develop an emergency plan in case you cannot call for help.
  • Consider public transportation: Holiday traffic and road construction make for extremely crowded roads and parking areas. Walk, carpool, or bicycle to avoid limited parking in crowded recreation areas. Where parking on the side of the road is allowed, do not park on vegetation because this can damage the environment and may spark a wildfire.
  • Avoid cold water shock: Cold water shock is real and can be life-threatening. Visitors should exercise caution when swimming and participating in water activities at Lake Tahoe. Wearing a life jacket even if you’re a strong swimmer significantly increases your chance of survival. Learn more about Cold Water Hazards and Safety from the National Weather Service.
  • Share the path: Yield to slower trail users, pass others safely, and be courteous and respectful of others.

Visit Leave No Trace, Know Before You Go and Recreate Responsibly to learn more about being a good steward of the forest. For the latest updates, visit the LTBMU website and follow us on Facebook and X (formerly Twitter).

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