Big Jack East Project Moves Forward
Forest supervisor Eli Ilano has prepared a draft Decision Notice and Finding of No Significant Impact for the Big Jack East Project Environmental Assessment. Under this decision, the forest service will treat approximately 2,059 acres on National Forest System lands. Treatment within the wildland urban intermix (WUI) defense zone totaling approximately 558 acres will use mechanical and manual methods to establish the desired conditions set forth by the forest plan. The forest service will also treat approximately 1,501 acres within the WUI threat zone. Underburning or jackpot burning is proposed for the entire project area; however, it is likely that only a portion would receive this treatment within a 10-year period. Burning in the defense zone units will be prioritized as much as practical. Those who submitted project-specific written comments during scoping or other designated comment periods are eligible to file an objection, which must be submitted by Jan. 25. Info: fs.usda.gov/project/?project=49215
Public-Private Partnership Will Restore Sierra Nevada Forest Health
The U.S. Forest Service announced in December the final approval of the French Meadows Forest Restoration Project, a forest health project aimed at reducing wildfire risk in a critical municipal watershed. This landscape-scale project, covering 30,000 acres of public and private land around French Meadows Reservoir, west of Lake Tahoe, is a public-private partnership that can serve as a model for increasing the pace and scale of ecologically-based forest management and fuels reduction throughout the Sierra Nevada. The project involves clearing underbrush, thinning smaller trees, removing biomass to renewable energy facilities, reforestation, restoring meadows, and prescribed fire. The goals are to promote forest resilience to stressors such as wildfire, insect and disease outbreaks, and climate change, as well as protect and restore habitat for fish and wildlife and safeguard water supply and resources. Work is expected to begin as soon as the snow melts, around May or June 2019.
Village at Gray’s Crossing Application Resubmitted
The Village at Gray’s Crossing plan was resubmitted to the town on Oct. 11, 2018. The Village was originally submitted in 2004 as part of the larger Gray’s Crossing Specific Plan, and the recent version is similar to the old plan save for a reduction in slightly less than half the retail space, and a reduction of the size of some of the residential units. The developer, North Real Estate Properties, has also requested to waive the 16 required affordable housing units due to the reduced size of 28 of its units which it states are “Affordable by Design … small, 1- to 2-bedroom units ranging in size from 550 to 1,461 square feet, with rents or mortgage payments ranging from $1,200 to $2,400 monthly price range.”
Squaw Valley Park Open for Free Snow Play
Placer County’s Squaw Valley Park is now open during the winter season, offering a free snow play option for visitors and residents. The parking area will be plowed all season long, creating a free and convenient place to park and play. For the experienced backcountry enthusiast, the park offers access to a spur trail that leads up a steep ascent to the Western States Trail, providing backcountry skiing and snowshoeing opportunities. Keeping the park open during the winter season is in response to feedback provided through the Placer County Park and Trail Master Plan surveys and focus groups. Many respondents expressed a need for more snow parks and backcountry recreation opportunities in the county.
Bike Coalition Releases First Online Map of Plowed Bike Trails
The Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition now offers the first online bike map showing the Lake Tahoe region’s regularly snow-plowed bike trails. People searching for a plowed bike route can now toggle a special seasonal layer in the nonprofit organization’s interactive bike map, available online at tahoebike.org/map. Many of Tahoe’s local jurisdictions clear snow from their shared-use paths, typically after they have completed plowing local roads. The plowed path data on the Bike Coalition map is not real-time data, but is a list of the paths each jurisdiction intends to plow during snow events. The all-volunteer nonprofit also produces the free print version of the Tahoe Bike Map, available at bike shops and visitor centers throughout the region. Info: tahoebike.org/map
County Launches New Online Appointment Scheduling Tool
Customers can now save time by booking appointments online to process permit requests for residential and commercial developments along with grading, sewer, and special events. The new service is available online at the Placer County Community Development Resource Agency webpage, allowing customers to conveniently schedule appointments at the agency’s offices in Auburn and in Tahoe City. Customers will also be able to view up-to-the-minute wait-time information for counter service along with appointment date and time availability. The online service allows customers to schedule appointments for assistance with building, engineering, planning, and plan check services. Appointments for public counter assistance at the Community Development Resource Agency are not required and customers are welcome to drop in anytime during normal business hours. Info: placer.ca.gov/departments/communitydevelopment
Blockchain Communications Executive Announces Plan for “Smart City”
At the beginning of the year, Blockchain Communications LLC purchased 67,000 acres surrounding Reno for $170 million in cash. Last November, CEO Jeffrey Berns announced a plan to build a “smart city” based on blockchain technology on the land. Berns plans for the community to include a campus, an e-sports arena, a content creation studio, and a residential community, with much of the infrastructure based on the unchangeable technological ledger of blockchain. In October, the company also announced a collaboration with NV Energy to provide power to the community, and in December announced a plan to build an extensive 102-mile-long fiber-optic ring through and around Reno and its current 25,000-square-foot office to the south of the city.
Tahoe Forest Hospital Chosen as One of Best Hospitals for Obstetrics
Tahoe Forest Hospital has been named as one of America’s Best Hospitals for Obstetrics by the Women’s Choice Award. The award signifies that Tahoe Forest Hospital is in the top 17 percent of 2,778 U.S. hospitals offering obstetrics. This is the fifth time Tahoe Forest Hospital has been awarded the Women’s Choice Award for America’s Best Hospitals for Obstetrics. The award is based on the percentage of patients that would definitely recommend the hospital, patient safety ranking based on 11 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ measures of infection and complication rates, low rates of early elective deliveries (between 0-1 percent), and other factors. Info: tfhd.com
Tahoe Conservancy Seeks Comments on Improving Recreation Accessibility
The California Tahoe Conservancy today kicked off public comment on a draft plan to improve access for people with disabilities at five conservancy-owned recreation sites: Carnelian West/Gar Woods, Carnelian East/Patton Landing, Kings Beach Plaza, North Tahoe Beach, and the California side of Van Sickle Bi-State Park. The draft plan is available for review on the conservancy’s website, tahoe.ca.gov. Members of the public may submit comments by Jan. 28 to firstname.lastname@example.org. The conservancy board also authorized spending up to $484,250 to implement three high-priority projects to reduce fire risk and improve forest health. Info: tahoe.ca.gov
Moving In, Moving Up, Moving On
TCPUD Director Ron Treabess Retires
After 32 years, Tahoe City Public Utility District Director Ron Treabess retired on Dec. 21. In that time he contributed to the establishing of a community planning team; projects like trail expansions, new ball fields at NTHS, recreation programs, sidewalks, Commons Beach, the Nordic center; transit services and transportation solutions through the transportation management association; support for state parks; and through his position at NLTRA on infrastructure projects throughout the region.
Robert Mergell to Lead Nevada Division of State Parks
Robert “Bob” Mergell is the new administrator for the Nevada Division of State Parks (NDSP) as of Jan. 2. Mergell has served as acting administrator since October 2018, when the previous administrator, Eric Johnson, retired after 34 years with NDSP. Mergell has more than 23 years of experience in parks management and operations.
Joanne Roubique Steps Down as District Ranger
Joanne Roubique retired on Jan. 3 as the district ranger for the Tahoe National Forest, Truckee Ranger District.