South Shore’s Camp Richardson campground restoration to be done this summer
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — U.S. Forest Service officials announced this week that they will resume construction efforts on the Camp Richardson Resort campgrounds this spring. The second phase of the two-year project will begin Monday, May 2, closing the Eagles Nest Campground on the southern side of U.S. Highway 89. Last summer’s construction on Badger’s Den Campground, on the lake side of the highway, is expected to be done prior to Memorial Day weekend, May 28-30.
“We’re hoping to be completely done by the beginning of August,” Forest Service project manager and civil engineer Jordan Burge said of the combined effort.
The project includes comprehensive retrofitting of both campgrounds in order to bring them to current standards and repairing environmental damage created by outdated campground layouts and infrastructure.
“It was kind of an unplanned campground,” Burge said of the original design. “There was no definition for roads and campsites.”
Poor designs resulted in unnecessary soil compaction damage caused by vehicles driving in non-designated areas.
“The whole place was denuded,” Burge said, describing the existing road as “so old you couldn’t even tell it was pavement anymore.”
While the plans include increasing roads in the campground, Burge explained it will allow for significant restoration of the site.
“Overall it will lead to an improved camping experience,” Lake Tahoe Basin Forest Service spokeswoman Lisa Herron said. “There will be a little bit of impact (this summer) with construction.”
When complete, the project will relocate campsites and roads from sensitive stream environment areas, improve roadway and campsite spurs, and manage on-site storm water runoff.
“We won’t have any runoff into the lake,” Burge said, describing the addition of infiltration basins and efforts to move campsites away from streams.
Additionally, a portion of the Pope-Baldwin Bike Path has been rerouted away from the highway shoulder in order to improve the user experience.
“We completely relined the recreation trail away from the highway,” Burge said.
Crews are currently putting finishing touches on the Badger’s Den portion of the project as well as the realigned rec path — both are on track to be completed by summer.
Planning for this project was coordinated with Caltrans, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board and other stakeholders.
RENAISSANCE FAIRE CANCELED
As a result of campground construction, organizers of the annual Valhalla Renaissance Faire at Camp Richardson have announced the event will be postponed until 2017. According to the group’s Facebook page, construction would not be completed in time for their planned 2016 dates. The festival is expected to return for the first two weekends in June 2017.
The page also mentioned that the Forest Service had extended an offer to let the group host the event at Badger’s Den, but organizers said the site would be too limiting.
“We didn’t want to have an experience of not putting on a top notch show and impacting our ability to put on further great events up there moving forward,” the organizers’ Facebook post said.
HIGHWAY 89 CONSTRUCTION TO CONTINUE
Caltrans State Route 89 work in the Camp Richardson area is also expected to resume in May. The $25 million project from the “Y” junction with U.S. Highway 50 in South Lake Tahoe to Cascade Road, north of Camp Richardson, is part of a West Shore effort to improve storm water drainage and traffic flow. Curb, gutter and sidewalks will be added in the 1.1-mile, four-lane section, and the highway will be widened in the two-lane section to Visitor Center Road to provide 4-foot paved shoulders on each side. Drainage systems are being built along that portion of highway and the roadway is being resurfaced. Completion is expected this fall.