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State backs off

Amanda Fehd

California State Parks did an about-face at a meeting with state legislators Thursday by announcing that it won’t enforce a years-old restriction on mooring overnight in Emerald Bay in undesignated areas, as announced last month.

Representatives of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency also made it clear that a proposal to ban motorboats for one day a weekend on Emerald Bay was just that: a proposal.

Sen. Dave Cox, R-Fair Oaks, and Assemblyman Tim Leslie, R-Tahoe City, expressed concerns to John Singlaub and Coleen Shade of the TRPA that the agency was not doing enough to make their plans and proposals clear to the public.

State Parks officials told the legislators they have concerns about boaters who have been illegally camping overnight on Emerald Bay without a reservation, according to a spokesperson for Sen. Cox. But it will only make a decision after public testimony and input.

Meanwhile, the public has until Sept. 2 to comment on a new shorezone option called Alternative 6, which includes the proposed motorboat ban. Five other options for regulating the lakeshore were presented to the public last summer.

The motorboat proposal is intended to address pollution in the bay.

The League to Save Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Club submitted public comments last year encouraging periodic non-motorized days in Emerald Bay.

Public agencies also submitted public comment to point out that the agency had to protect Tahoe’s status as a National Outstanding Resource Water, as designated by the Environmental Protection Agency. Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board and the EPA told TRPA it had to compensate for the increase in boats on the lake that Alternative 6 allows through increased buoys and piers.

“There ought to be some times when people in non-motorized watercraft can utilize places like Emerald Bay,” said Michael Donahoe of the Sierra Club’s Lake Tahoe chapter. He said there are presently safety issues with taking a kayak or canoe out because they are not visible to drivers on powerboats.

At least one kayaker has been killed on Lake Tahoe by a motorboat, which precipitated a 15 mph speed limit.

“Right now it’s not the kind of quality recreational experience in a natural setting that would draw recreationists up here,” he said.

John Friedrich, program director with the League, said a non-motorized day could allow for a win-win situation for the economy and the environment by attracting more people who recreate in a low-impact way.

“The idea is that as more kayakers, canoeists, and sailboaters get the word out that there is a safe and peaceful experience Emerald Bay, the more will come to enjoy that,” Friedrich said.

The League and Sierra Club both said they were not stuck on a weekend day for the ban. The League originally proposed a weekday as a non-motorized day.

A balance should be found to protect both boater’s rights and the environment, said Doug Hipsley of the Recreational Boaters of California at a South Tahoe Yacht Association meeting Wednesday.

Boaters there also expressed concern about the fee for a clean boat sticker, which would be used to pay for new boat washing stations.

Dave Johnson of California Department of Boating and Waterways, which runs on a $60 to $100 million budget per year, said they currently have grant funds available for improving boat launching facilities, which could cover the costs of new boat washing stations.

Donahoe criticized other parts of Alternative 6, saying it allows for too many piers. A private pier permit would cost $100,000.

Written comments will be accepted until Sept. 2, at 5 p.m.

Only written comments will be considered. They can be sent by e-mail to trpa@trpa.org or delivered to 128 Market St., Stateline.

Telephone inquiries can be made at (775) 588-4547 ext. 237 for Julie Regan, or ext. 228 for Coleen Shade.

There will be an informational presentation July 27 at the Governing Board meeting at the Kings Beach Conference Center.

Public hearings: Aug. 10: Advisory Planning Commission, Kings Beach Conference Center, and Aug. 24: Governing Board meeting, TRPA offices at 128 Market St., Stateline.

Public Workshops will be Aug. 8 TRPA offices at Stateline and Aug. 9 Kings Beach Conference Center.


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