Reminder to practice winter recreation safety ahead of Presidents Day Weekend

Submitted to the Tribune

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. —With Presidents Day weekend approaching, remember to plan ahead, ensure your vehicles are snow ready, and exercise extreme caution when recreating in winter conditions on California’s National Forests.

Excellent resources on weather conditions, Leave No Trace principles, and winter safety are available in the Recreate Responsibly Winter Toolkit. A Spanish version of the toolkit can be found here.

To further ensure you have a safe and enjoyable outing on the snow and ice, follow these essential points of advice:

Know Before You Go – Check the weather of your destination, road conditions, tire chain requirements, and potential road closures. Don’t get lured into taking alternative routes around road closures. Alternative routes recommended by travel apps and online map services often do not reflect the current situation and you may get lost or stuck. Instead check this resource: QuickMap (

Be Prepared – Carry tire chains, ice scraper; check your tire pressures and tread; top off windshield fluid; keep an extra blanket and provisions in your car in case you become stuck on the roadside.

Keep In Touch – Let someone know the details of your trip, including where you’re going and when you will be back. Stick to your plan.

Play Tt Safe – Know your limits. Slow down and choose lower-risk activities.

Check Ski/Snowboard Conditions – Check conditions and operating status before hitting the slopes, but remember that conditions can change quickly. Please follow all safety guidelines. Resource: Ski Safety – Ski California – Avalanche Safety

Take Caution on Ice: Due to daily temperature changes, areas that appear solid may have thawed and become impassible. Ice skating, fishing, or trekking on frozen lakes, ponds, rivers or reservoirs is not recommended and is at your own risk. Consider visiting an indoor skating facility as a safer alternative.

Be Avalanche Aware – Backcountry users should take extra precautions, travel in groups, carry appropriate avalanche equipment, and check the avalanche report ahead. Resource: Sierra Avalanche Center | Backcountry Avalanche, Snow, and Weather Information for the greater Lake Tahoe area

Presidents Day is a fee-free day. The fee waiver includes many picnic areas, boat launches, trailheads, and visitor centers. Fees for camping, cabin rentals, heritage expeditions, or other permits still apply. Fees will continue to be charged at recreation sites operated by concessionaires unless the individual manager chooses to participate.

The Forest Service manages 18 National Forests in the Pacific Southwest Region, which encompasses over 20 million acres across California, and assists State and Private forest landowners in California, Hawaii and the U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands. National forests supply 50 percent of the water in California and form the watershed of most major aqueducts and more than 2,400 reservoirs throughout the state. For more information, visit


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