My Turn: New Lake Tahoe boat inspections ineffective
There are new rules for Lake Tahoe this summer due to the possible invasion of the quagga and zebra mussels. Let me state that I am 100 percent in favor of protecting Lake Tahoe, as well as the surrounding lakes and reservoirs (something that is not being addressed by anyone).
Having said that, it seems that the TRPA is serious too, at least when it comes to collecting money. I have launched my boat several times this summer so far and have been “inspected” three times. The inspections are laughable at best.
The first time, the inspector didn’t even step into my boat. Instead, he handed me a spray bottle of bleach and told me to spray some in the corners of my engine bay.
On another occasion, nothing was done at all other than to answer a few questions which ranged from where I live to how many times I plan on visiting the lake this summer. Free for now, but starting June 1 this inspection will cost me $30 for my 19-foot boat, a fee which the TRPA deemed on their website as “nominal”.
Nominal? I think they need to reference Websters so they may update their understanding of the word. Also, the fee structure seems completely arbitrary. Boats up to 16 feet are $10. Sixteen to 25 feet, $30. There are additional fees if you have ballast bags or live wells.
Keeping invasive mussels out of the Lake and other surrounding waterways is critical. The inspectors that have been hired are, in my opinion, grossly under-qualified for the job.
From what I have seen, they do not have a clue what they are actually looking for, lack the motivation to actually do the job and are also equally inept with regards to the new rules and regulations for the lake and basic boating knowledge, such as what an inboard outboard is versus say v- drives and direct drives.
Why is this important? I don’t know either, but it’s one of the questions you will be asked when launching. In addition to the new fee structure, which may be found at http://www.trpa.org, there are higher fees for launching and parking. I still can’t figure out if they are charging for parking and/or launching this year.
What I did find out is that the parking fee for a Truckee resident such as myself went from $110 for the season to $2250! What’s more, the parking passes aren’t even being sold at the boat launch facility anymore.
Apparently they may only be obtained at the charter school on the West Shore ” hours of availability weren’t immediately known. Parking in the street may not be an option due to an erosion control project, according to the utility district. So it may be very plausible that during busy times you could go through the inspection process, launch your boat and then find there is no place to park.
Lastly, in addition to all of the new fees there are strict hours of operation for the lake that vary from facility to facility. Lake Forest is open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. If you come in after 11 p.m. you will need to call a number that I was told “may” be posted on the gate. And if you do need to call be prepared for a hassle. I was told that by calling the number there would be a fee for “‘waking someone up” to let you out of the lake and it would most likely take a long time. I asked if it was then possible to leave my boat in the facility overnight, and the answer was absolutely not.
So much for wanting to enjoy a nice late night on the lake. For the fees they are charging there should be 24 hour access to the lake, and more importantly, qualified and educated inspectors that know the regulations and what they are looking for.
What about Donner, Bocca, Stampede? Apparently these bodies of water have not been deemed by any governing agency important enough to protect. There are no inspections on any of these other lakes ” they are on their own and at risk.
Court Leve is a frequent contributer to the Sierra Sun.
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