Editorial: State Parks, boaters advance Emerald Bay camping issues with meetings
August 28, 2005
California State Parks has had a long summer dealing with discontented Lake Tahoe boaters after it announced in June that it would enforce a California code against overnight camping in Emerald Bay and other Lake Tahoe anchorages. Since the public outcry following the announcement, Hayden Sohm, State Parks Superintendent, has shown a willingness to listen to boaters’ concerns in developing a plan for future Emerald Bay use.
After two meetings this week – during which groups of boaters expressed disapproval of the change in policy – it was made clear that boaters are willing to volunteer their time to enforce rules with regards to trash being thrown in the water and pollution being discharged from dirty boats. Some attendees even suggested an Emerald Bay anchoring permit to fund clean-up efforts.
Sohm told a group of 20 boaters Thursday evening that anchoring can potentially disturb artifacts, such as sunken ships, that populate the lake bed. Although this may be true, technology would enable State Parks to map areas where anchoring might be a hazard to archaeological remains (and fines can be levied to enforce no-anchor zones). GPS and other navigation tools can be used to solve this problem.
Adding buoys to accommodate the growing number of recreational users in Emerald Bay is another proposition Sohm floated at last week’s meetings. By providing fixed anchorages, the addition would cut down on the number of boats anchoring in the lake bed.
The idea met with apparent approval from the users, but adding buoys will require a survey of the lake bed and approval from the State Lands Commission and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. Hopefully the two agencies, aware of the demand, can guide Sohm through the red tape.
At the heart of the issue, is the recognition by Sohm that the use of Emerald Bay by overnight campers is not the problem contributing to pollution – it’s use by an irresponsible few. Cracking down on them, while providing reasonable access to responsible boaters, would hopefully improve the environment of Emerald Bay while keeping it open to the majority responsible users.
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