Park fee, new ranger coming to Van Sickle Bi-State Park at Lake Tahoe
Changes are in the works for Van Sickle Bi-State Park, including additional staffing and the eventual implementation of a park entry fee.
The popular park straddling the state line — 542 acres in Nevada and 156 acres in California — has seen a drastic increase in use over the years, necessitating changes in management.
“We are in the range of 63,000 visitors per year now,” said Eric Johnson, administrators for Nevada State Parks. That’s up from 51,000 visitors in 2013 — the first year the park installed a counter.
“We requested funding [from the state of Nevada] in the 2017 session to add one full-time park ranger and two seasonal positions, as well as funding for basic operating expenses and some utilities.”
Up until this point, two volunteer on-site caretakers, Frank Bosch and Linda Cook, have monitored the park.
“They’ve decided to move on. Without them there is not a presence to protect the barn and the cabins and all of those cultural resources that are there,” said Johnson.
The new ranger, South Lake Tahoe native Mike Shipman, will start in mid-October.
Johnson said he expects an entrance fee to be in place within the next year.
“We intend to implement a $5 entry fee, but the actual mechanics of that haven’t been worked out yet because, as it stands now, it would just apply to the Nevada side. We need to work with California to see what that would look like,” he said.
The California portion of the park is owned by the California Tahoe Conservancy, who would have to agree on the fee.
Nick Meyer, environmental planner for the Conservancy, said there is “nothing planned as of yet” for the fee, but that it “could happen in the future.”
Nevada State Parks believes the fee would help the park be more adaptive to future growth.
“We are not concerned right now about over-use, but we want to prevent a concern in the future by having the means to maintain the trails, ensure that the use stays on the trails, and monitor the traffic on the trails,” said Johnson. “We don’t want to have conflicts between mountain bikers, pedestrians and horses. Right now everyone seems to get along pretty well, but we want to ensure that continues with trail monitoring — or potentially expand the trail system.”
Johnson said the department also has a “long-term vision” for a campground at Van Sickle.
“It would be the central southern portion of the Nevada side. Right now that is purely conceptual, but we would long term like to see a full hook-up campground on that site. We think it would see an 80 percent occupancy for six months out of the year.”