Kimball C. Pier: A desperate plea

If you listen to the KCRA newscast for Aug. 26 on YouTube, (, maybe you’ll be as disgusted as I was listening to the complaints of vacationers to Tahoe who lament not being able to play golf, lunch outdoors or go hiking due to smoke. Or maybe you’re more empathetic than I am.

I work as a therapist in Loyalton on Thursdays. On Aug. 26, my phone buzzed four times with emergency evacuation orders for people living between Quincy and Graeagle because of the Dixie Fire. Our local hospitals and clinics are overwhelmed by new COVID cases, mostly people who are unvaccinated, and because of people coming to Tahoe from elsewhere who are unvaccinated. The KCRA broadcast of Aug. 26 contains clips of disappointed vacationers complaining about smoke ruining their vacations. The fires are devastating for local businesses, already straining for breath due to the pandemic.

Who among us will stay here and be steadfast and just continue chopping wood and carrying water so to speak? I am so grateful for you, firefighters, healthcare workers, baristas, grocery store checkers, restaurant workers, highway construction workers, and every one of us who rise with the red sun and sigh as we look out our windows.

Maybe we kneel and pray, maybe we cry, but we pull on our socks, have some coffee, and commence to serve in whatever capacity. So listen up privileged mostly white folks who have come to Tahoe as if you were visiting a house of prostitution; you want Tahoe to meet your recreational needs and then you leave. Maybe you leave a tip, depending on how well Tahoe performed. (One woman on this newscast said, “This is not what we expect from Tahoe.“)

You return to the Bay Area and wait for Tahoe to shape up and be more cooperative about meeting your needs. Or maybe you’re among those who moved here to the Tahoe Truckee area on impulse when the pandemic hit thinking it would be so much safer here. Now, things imagined they’d be up here, and you’re thinking about running out of here like a burnt squirrel back to the city where there’s the risk of COVID, but at least you can have martnitis out in your deck without choking on smoke.

I just want to issue a plea and say that we’re all in this together. There’s no escape. It’s time to face the consequences and take personal responsibility for stewardship of the planet we’ve so thoughtlessly plundered. How about staying here and helping out by volunteering at a local business that is unable to find employees to serve our meals because there is no such thing as affordable housing? How about seriously investing in our communities here like cleaning up all the garbage along the shorelines of Lake Tahoe and Donner Lake left behind by vacationers who feel disappointed because of the smoke and have to cancel tee times? How about just staying still and grieving the loss of the irreplaceable landscape? The ashes fall, and we are witnessing death. Can we please honor that?

Kimball C. Pier

Lake Tahoe

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