Forest Service encourages planning ahead on Labor Day weekend

Submitted to the Sun
A view of Lake Tahoe's West Shore.

TAHOE CITY, Calif. — The Forest Service ahead of the Labor Day holiday weekend is reminding visitors to Lake Tahoe to recreate responsibly, plan ahead and adhere to fire restrictions in the basin.

There have been more than 500 wildfires on California National Forests this year with approximately 98% being contained within the first 48 hours.

“Our National Forests see the highest number of visitors during holiday weekends,” said Pacific Southwest Region Director of Public Services Jim Bacon. “With extreme drought and fire conditions statewide, extra diligence can go a long way to ensure we all enjoy the outdoors this weekend while keeping everyone safe.”

Recreators are encouraged to prepare themselves and others as they plan to visit and enjoy their public lands. The following tips were provided by Forest Service recreation and public service specialists based on situations recently seen on California National Forests.

A heat wave will last through the weekend and into next week with high temperatures possibly record breaking for the time of year and 10-15 degrees above seasonal averages.

— Plan for heat warnings: Rising temperatures across California can pose potential risks for campers and hikers from heat-related illnesses that prevent the body from cooling down. Use sunscreen, stay hydrated, and plan early or late afternoon hikes to avoid the hottest part of the day.

— Conserve water wisely: Always bring enough water when recreating outdoors and ensure all spigots and valves are tightly turned off at recreation sites and pumps to protect limited water supplies.

— Note hazard trees: Falling trees are an ever-present hazard when hiking and camping in National Forests. Be aware of your surroundings, including high winds and avoid parking or camping where damaged trees are present.

— Leave your site cleaner than you found it: Protect wildlife and water bodies by using trash receptacles correctly; or pack out what you pack in. Look around for dropped items, like trash and toys.

— Minimize campfire impacts: Consider fire restrictions before starting a campfire.

— Leave fireworks at home: They are not allowed in the basin.

— Keep Tahoe bears wild: Bear canisters are required for overnight visitors to Desolation Wilderness and are highly encouraged in other backcountry areas. Be sure to remove all food, garbage, and scented items from your vehicle before heading out. In campgrounds, store all food and scented items in bear resistant containers (storage lockers/bear boxes), dispose of trash in dumpsters or trash receptacles properly and close and lock these containers. Read more about Keeping Tahoe Bears Wild.

— Respect rules for dogs: Please respect the rules on where dogs are allowed. Dogs are not permitted on National Forest designated swim beaches including Baldwin, Kaspian, Meeks Bay, Nevada, Pope, and William Kent beaches. Read more about Dogs at Lake Tahoe.

— Respect rules for eBikes: Please be courteous to hikers and other bicyclists and respect the rules on where eBikes are allowed. Motor assisted bicycles are only allowed on National Forest motorized trails. For more information on where eBikes are allowed, take a look at the LTBMU Motor Vehicle Use Maps and eBike webpage.

— Recreate responsibly in the Caldor Fire area: Recreationists should use caution when recreating in the 2021 Caldor Fire area. Burned landscapes present numerous safety hazards that either did not exist prior to the fire or have been worsened by the effects of the fire. Hikers and mountain bikers should be on the lookout for falling trees and limbs, ash pits, burned stump holes, and root chambers. Read more about Caldor Fire Area Safety Tips.

— Practice backcountry safety: Backcountry enthusiasts should always tell a family member or friend where they are going, when they expect to return, and then stick to the plan. Always check the weather before heading out. Sturdy footwear, proper clothing and gear is essential, and an old-fashioned paper map and compass can come in handy. Always travel with a buddy, never alone. Keep in mind that mobile devices may not work in remote areas. Develop an emergency plan in case you cannot call for help.

— Consider public transportation: Holiday traffic and road construction make for extremely crowded roads and parking areas. Walk, carpool, or bicycle to avoid limited parking in crowded recreation areas. Where parking on the side of the road is allowed, be careful to not park on vegetation as this can cause damage to the environment and can spark a wildfire.

— Avoid cold water shock: Cold water shock is real and can be life-threatening. Visitors should exercise caution when swimming and participating in water activities at Lake Tahoe. Wearing a life jacket even if you’re a strong swimmer significantly increases your chance of survival. Visit the following links to learn more about Cold Water Safety and ways to prevent Cold Water Shock.

— Share the path: Yield to slower trail users, pass others safely, respect others and enjoy Lake Tahoe.

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