Parks official discusses law prohibiting boat camping |

Parks official discusses law prohibiting boat camping

Amanda Fehd
Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Hayden Sohm, superintendent of the Sierra District of California State Parks, talks of the situation in Emerald Bay on Tuesday during the South Lake Tahoe City Council meeting.

The issue of overnight mooring in Emerald Bay was aired out at the South Lake Tahoe City Council meeting Tuesday, with most city leaders cautioning State Parks against punishing responsible boaters for the negligent behavior of others.

Hayden Sohm, superintendent of the Sierra District of State Parks, agreed to come to the meeting to address questions from the council and the public.

Beginning by apologizing for taking people by surprise with a decision in June to start enforcement of a years-old ban on mooring, he explained State Parks is primarily concerned with preserving Emerald Bay and educating the public on the negative impacts of certain activities on the bay, including litter, illegal anchoring and dumping of sewage.

Camping is illegal anywhere on the lake except in designated areas, according to regulations at State Parks and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

When Mayor Kathay Lovell asked who could designate more camping on the lake, Sohm said he would be that person, but he was “hamstrung” by similar regulations by TRPA dating back to 1987.

“My inclination is to establish another buoy field, but right now, based on regulations in place, I do not have that ability,” Sohm said.

There is not much scientific data on activities or their impacts at the bay, just anecdotal data from his rangers in the field, Sohm said.

About 250 pounds of litter was retrieved from the bottom of the bay by divers last month, which accumulated over one year. In addition, an invasive water weed, Eurasian milfoil, and dumped sewage are concerns.

Councilmembers pointed out that all these problems could be coming from people who never spend the night.

“Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater,” said Councilmember Ted Long. “Can we come up with a solution that allows people who want to enjoy it and are responsible to be able to do that?”


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