Forest Service closes backcountry due to fire concerns
Special to the Sierra Sun
The USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit announced multiple areas would be off limits as a part of the Caldor Fire Emergency Closure that went into effect on Sept. 18 and lasts through the end of the year.
Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit Public Affairs Specialist Lisa Herron explained that the closures were in accordance with the areas that are still potentially a danger zone for the Caldor Fire, and extends to the access points of many of those trails to prevent usage.
“There’s still a lot of hazards out there,” said Herron.
Officially, the closure covers the Caldor Fire perimeter, and then extends adjacent of the perimeter in the areas that are still considered to be hazardous. The official order released outlines the multiple areas that are off limits beginning at the Tahoe Rim Trail and the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit boundary near Monument Peak, continuing along a plethora of areas, including California State Route 89, U.S. Highway 50, and through much of the South Lake area that is usually open to hikers.
The full list of areas restricted can be found on the Inciweb website at inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/closures/7801/.
“We’re hoping that people consider the risks and help us out by avoiding those areas,” said Herron. “One thing I like to suggest is, the basin is pretty large. Those areas impacted are mainly on the west and south shores. So there’s still a lot of areas on the north and east shores. Maybe people could use it as an opportunity to explore some new places.”
Along with LLake Tahoe Basin Management Unit’s Emergency Fire Closure, it announced Tuesday that the backcountry area would also be experiencing closures, in order to keep both the land and people protected. The order is effective until Oct. 20 and includes the Desolation Wilderness and Meiss Backcountry among other areas.
“The fire is still burning in those areas. There’s still a lot of activity in Desolation Wilderness, southwest of Lake Aloha, and there’s still a great deal of activity in the Caples Lake/Kirkwood area. So that closure does include Desolation, Mckinney Rubicon area, Blackwood Creek Road, and Barker Pass. We want people to respect that closure and stay out of there for their own safety, because there’s still active fires.”
Violating either order can result in up to a $5,000 fine for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or up to six months time in prison, or both.
Along with the forest area closures, Herron said that the fire restrictions currently in place have been extended to Nov. 30. This means building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire, campfire, or stove fire, which includes charcoal, on Forest Service land is restricted.
But Herron said on any official campgrounds, propane stoves with an on and off switch are permitted. Additionally, if one would like to use one on non-campgrounds, all they have to do is go online and apply for a permit.
“The intent of those restrictions is that we’re kind of at the height of the fire season, and the height of the fire season is coming,” said Herron. “Right now, resources are stretched really thin, and the last thing we need is another fire to break out in the basin.”
Herron explained that at least 75% of forest fires in Tahoe are illegal campfires.
“We can do better,” said Herron. “It’s not always intentional, there are accidents that happen. But the intention is to keep any new fires from starting by having these restrictions in place, because that’s so important right now.”
For more information on current burning restrictions in the Tahoe Basin, along with up-to-date information on forest closures, visit fs.usda.gov/main/ltbmu/home.
Miranda Jacobson is a staff writer for the Tahoe Daily Tribune, a sister publication of the Sierra Sun
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