Lake Tahoe officials stress fire danger, safety this Labor Day weekend
Ahead of Labor Day weekend, officials are stressing the dangers of fire, backcountry safety and reminding them to obey the rules and regulations on Lake Tahoe.
Hoards of visitors will be in the basin escaping the heat at lower elevations and recreating in the big blue lake and on mountain trails.
With people cramming the beaches, water and mountains, it’s an especially good time to be smart, safe and good stewards of the land.
“The No. 1 message we’re stressing is that campfires are only allowed in developed campgrounds, never on the beach or in national forests,” said Lisa Herron, public affairs specialist for Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit of the U.S. Forest Service. “That’s our top issue and we try to be vigilant and we need people’s help to remain vigilant. High temps and high humidity create fire danger and we’re always concerned about fire, especially this time of year.”
Herron says that while it may not be malicious, most wildfires are caused by people starting illegal campfires and leaving them unattended. She also encourages the public to report any unfamiliar activity they may see.
Fire Prevention Officer Olivia Rahman reported that the Forest Service fire and recreation staff has extinguished 68 illegal or abandoned campfires on national forest lands in the Basin.
Sparks from target shooting or from cars without spark arrestors are a concern.
Nine fires in June that burned more than 500 acres in Alpine, Washoe and Churchill counties were suspected of being caused by target shooting, which prompted the Carson Ranger District to issue a shooting ban through Sept. 30.
Herron says the Lake Tahoe Basin is not under any fire restrictions but that can quickly change.
Heading into the backcountry, Herron said checking the weather forecast, wearing proper clothing, including a “steady shoe,” bringing the right equipment and telling someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back are all good practices.
She also said the temperatures are warm and to stay hydrated, bring a compass, map or GPS and always have an emergency plan if something goes wrong. Never rely on cell phones in the backcountry.
“The weather can change quickly so it’s best to be prepared as much as possible,” Herron said.
Whatever the plan, whether it be to visit a beach, head out on a boat, or hike in the wilderness, know the jurisdiction and be aware of the rules and regulation for the area.
Many different agencies have jurisdiction on Tahoe’s South Shore, including Nevada and California state parks, El Dorado and Douglas counties, the Forest Service and the California Tahoe Conservancy.
Before skipping across the lake, boats must go through inspection to check for the presence of quagga/zebra mussels and other harmful invasive species.
Boaters also are required by law to have life vests for every person on board. The rules also go for stand-up paddleboards, kayaks and rafts. Children younger than 13 are required to wear a life jacket on a boat at all times, unless in an enclosed cabin.
Boats must also carry a fire extinguisher, a whistle, a bell or horn, a visual distress signal or flare gun, a ventilation duct allowing for proper ventilation of inboard gasoline engines and a backfire flame arrestor.