Tahoe Conservancy grants $449,000 to expand ‘Outdoors for All’

Submitted to the Sun

TAHOE CITY, Calif. — The California Tahoe Conservancy has awarded four grants, totaling $449,000, to support environmental education for underserved Tahoe youth and to expand equitable access to Lake Tahoe’s beaches, trails, and mountains.

“Our communities at Lake Tahoe welcome tens of millions of visitors every year, but too many Tahoe residents grow up unable to participate in the outdoor experiences of this national treasure,” said Conservancy Board Chair and El Dorado County Supervisor Sue Novasel. “These grants support organizations and programs that have proven success in breaking down barriers to the outdoors for some of Tahoe’s most underserved youth.”

At its meeting today, the Conservancy Board authorized the grants to expand access to public lands in the Tahoe region for underserved people, including people of color and others who have faced barriers to outdoor recreation. The grants include:

  • $100,000 to Adventure Risk Challenge to expand its environmental education programming, focused on facilitating transformational opportunities for rural, low-income, and English Learner North Tahoe High School students.
  • $150,000 to the Gateway Mountain Center to expand outdoor adventure, leadership, and wellness programming for Hispanic and other underserved youth—especially those struggling with mental health challenges—in the Tahoe region.
  • $99,000 to the Lake Tahoe Unified School District to support environmental education field trips and programming, providing experiential learning activities for LTUSD students, most of whom are underserved; and
  • $100,000 to the Tahoe Rim Trail Association to improve inclusivity and accessibility on the Tahoe Rim Trail system.

Deep inequalities exist in the racial mix of visitors to public lands. Federal data show that between 88 and 95% of visitors to public lands nationwide are white. The percent of African American and Hispanic/Latinx visitors is much lower than the representation of those groups in the population. Portions of Kings Beach and South Lake Tahoe are “park poor communities” according to California State Parks metrics. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration has prioritized policies and funding to increase public access and recreation for historically underserved groups as part of the Outdoors for All initiative.

At the same meeting, the board awarded a $150,000 grant to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to create a Climate Resilience Dashboard. The TRPA and Tahoe partners will use the Dashboard to measure how the Lake Tahoe Environmental Improvement Program partnership is collectively building resilience to climate change impacts, providing data for partners to prioritize future projects and investments.

Also at the meeting, the board amended the Conservancy’s 2018-2023 Strategic Plan to advance racial equity and better serve all Californians, regardless of race. The amendment enhances the Conservancy’s efforts to conduct racial equity planning, participate in local and statewide initiatives to further racial equity and tribal engagement goals, and increase capacity for projects and programs that enhance racial equity, access for all, and tribal community efforts.

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