| SierraSun.com

Order up: Bike Kitchen helps those in need

TRUCKEE, CALIF. — Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition is serving up used bikes to those in need.

Through the organization’s Bike Kitchen program, donations of refurbished bicycles have been made during the last year and a half to various local social services programs across Tahoe and Truckee.

“It’s really just gotten ramped up in the last year,” said Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition Vice President Kira Smith. “It’s been a really great program, and with every bike that we do donate, we’re giving a helmet, lights and a lock.”

Smith said Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition received a grant from American Century Championship for the locks, were gifted helmets from California Highway Patrol, and have had locals donate tools and time.

“All those pieces fell into place at the right time,” said Smith. “Then we decided we wanted to ramp it up.”

After receiving emails from locals about wanting to donate bikes, the Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition formed the Bike Kitchen and began working with local social services organizations like Tahoe Coalition for the Homeless, North Tahoe-Truckee Homeless Services, and the South Lake Tahoe Family Resource Center.

The program has been working so well, according to Smith, that Bike Kitchen now has a lengthy waiting list of people who need bikes. One hurdle has been storing old bikes along with turnover time to make repairs by the all-volunteer group.

Recently, the Bike Kitchen has held fix-up days at The Hangar in South Lake Tahoe, and plans are in place to find a location for a similar event in North Tahoe. Smith said the program eventually plans to expand to holding fix-up days once a month, along with having volunteers onsite to give tips on maintenance and repairs for those wishing to tune up their own bikes.

Currently, the biggest need is for adult bikes, said Smith. The program is also asking for bikes that aren’t rusty or in need of serious repairs due to budget and volunteer time constraints.

To donate a bicycle to the Bike Kitchen, email bikekitchen@tahoebike.org. To learn more about fix-up events, sign up for the organization’s newsletter at tahoebike.org.

Dog brand store opens in downtown Truckee

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Visit any trail or coffee shop in Truckee and you’ll see how well-loved dogs are in the town. Now, a new store in downtown celebrates the community’s love of their furry friends. 

Wild & Ruff celebrates the community’s love for dogs.
Laney Griffo/Sierra Sun

Wild & Ruff is a dog focused brand that celebrates pets and their owners, along with the outdoor lifestyle of the region. It was started by Jamie Vine, who moved to Truckee in 2022. 

“My dogs are a huge passion of mine and the outdoors and Truckee needed a really cool dog store and a dog brand,” Vine said. “My goal is to create a lifestyle brand for humans and an innovative, really cool aesthetic for dogs.”

Vine has created several brands over the past 20 years, so part of her desire to start Wild & Ruff was that there weren’t a lot of interesting or unique patterns for dog accessories. The other inspiration was a desire to make accessories that were functional and practical in the outdoors. 

For example, the collars don’t have plastic buckles that break easily in the cold and the leashes have carabiner locks that are secure. 

When designing the products, Wild & Ruff spoke with search and rescue and avalanche dog teams to find out how the gear they use is lacking or could be improved.

“We love to develop our products with the mindset of being an outdoor loving, adventuring dog owner – built to last and have a nature based aesthetic,” she said.

The store sells harnesses, leashes, collars, and stainless bowls, along with double sided bandanas that can be used for cooling off your pup. They are interested in sustainability across the board so they also sell sustainable toys and healthy treats.

The items sold here are built to be functional in the outdoors.
Laney Griffo/Sierra Sun

“What’s special about the treats we sell is they are all super organic, with only one to three ingredients, no fillers, meat only, basically only what we would feed our dogs,” Vine said. “We want to be confident about what we give our dogs and what we sell to other dogs and if we can convert some other dogs from wheat and flour based treats to all-natural meat based treats, we feel like we’ve helped a doggie.” 

Vine said they currently have treat vendors outside of the area but she is open and interested in sourcing the treats locally that meet her standards. 

The toys are also focused with the dog’s health in mind. Many are made with coconut fiber filling and other natural ingredients like leather and water buffalo bone, so if the toy is ripped up and eaten, dogs aren’t swallowing plastic.

Some of the other toys are made from recycled plastic found in the ocean. 

In addition to focusing on health and sustainability, Wild & Ruff is also passionate about giving back. 

“We are super focused on helping dogs,” Vine said, saying that she’s partnered with the Humane Society to donate money and swag bags for free adoption events. They will also be sponsoring adoptions so that new dog owners can come pick out a few items for their pets.

There is also an interest in celebrating the community’s love for dogs outside of the store. Vine gives out “Dog Friendly Business” stickers to place in the windows of businesses around town and they want to create a map of dog-friendly businesses, trails and beaches.

The store offers items for humans too. There are branded hats and clothing as well as home decor items. 

To check out Downtown Truckee’s new Dog Gear & Gift Store, visit Wild & Ruff at 10115 Donner Pass Rd, or go to the online store at https://wildandruff.com.

Harmful algae detected in Tahoe Keys; Signs posted reflect various threat levels

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — The presence of harmful algal blooms in the Tahoe Keys Lagoon has been detected and officials are asking people to stay out of the water within a specific area.

The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board on Friday announced that tests confirmed the presence of harmful algae and have posted signs in certain areas to coincide with potential health risks present.

Lahontan said it regularly monitors the lagoon at multiple locations and these multiple advisories exist due to the varying levels of toxin detections. The latest results from the HAB sampling indicate the highest levels have been detected at the corner of Venice and Alpine Drive, resulting in a danger advisory.

Anyone visiting the area is encouraged to follow the below guidance until further notice.


— You can swim in this water, but stay away from algae and scum.

— Do not let pets and other animals go into or drink the water or eat scum on the shore.

— Keep children away from algae in the water and on the shore.

— Do not drink the water or use it for cooking.

— For fish caught here, throw away guts and clean fillets with tap water or bottled water before cooking.

— Do not eat shellfish from this water.


— No swimming.

— Do not let pets and other animals go into or drink the water or eat scum on the shore.

— Stay away from scum, and cloudy or discolored water.

— Do not eat shellfish from this water.

— Do not use this water for drinking or cooking. Boiling or filtering will not make the water safe.

— For fish caught here, throw away guts and clean fillets with tap water or bottled water before cooking.


— Stay out of the water until further notice, including watercraft.

— Do not let pets and other animals drink or go into the water or go near the scum.

— Stay away from scum, and cloudy or discolored water.

— Do not eat fish or shellfish from this water.

— Do not use this water for drinking or cooking. Boiling or filtering will not make the water safe.

According to a news release, cyanobacteria, a group of organisms that form HABs, can produce potent toxins that can affect human and pet health. Health risks are associated with HABs, based on cyanobacteria levels as they produce dermatoxins, and levels of exposure that can cause skin inflammation, gastrointestinal distress, headaches, agitation and weakness or abnormal breathing if HAB material is swallowed while swimming. Dogs and children are most susceptible to exposure because of their smaller body size, increased potential to swallow water while swimming and tendency to stay in the water longer. If you suspect exposure, wash your children and dog immediately, and potentially seek medical attention.

The HAB in the lagoon appears to be suspended on the water’s surface. Bloom conditions can change rapidly, as the winds move or concentrate the bloom into different areas. In some areas, the HAB may concentrate and form a film or scum on the water surface. The color of the water may also appear discolored as bright or dark green and brown. 

The Tahoe Keys Property Owners Association has posted signs to notify recreational users of the HAB. The Water Board will continue to provide regular updates to inform the community when additional postings occur and/or previous postings are removed from the California HAB Reports Web Map.

The Water Board recommends that people practice healthy water habits while enjoying the outdoors this summer at your local lake, river or stream: 

— Heed all instructions on posted advisories if present 

— Avoid algae and scum in the water and on the shore 

— Keep an eye on children and pets 

— If you think a harmful algal bloom or toxic algal mats are present, do not let pets and other animals go into or drink the water or eat scum/algal mats on the shore 

— Don’t drink the water or use it for cooking 

— Wash yourself, your family and your pets with clean water after water play 

— If you catch fish, throw away guts and clean fillets with tap water or bottled water before cooking 

— Avoid eating shellfish if you think a harmful algal bloom is present 

Get medical treatment immediately if you think that you, your pet or livestock has gotten sick after going in the water. Be sure to alert the medical professional to the possible contact with cyanobacteria. Also, make sure to contact the local county public health department. 

To report a bloom, do one of the following:

— Fill out the Bloom Report form on the HABs Portal

— Email: CyanoHAB.reports@waterboards.ca.gov

— Call the HABs hotline: 1-844-729-6466 (toll free)

— Contact your County Public Health Office

Legnavsky named president/CEO of Sugar Bowl

NORDEN, Calif. — Sugar Bowl Resort announced Thursday that Bridget Legnavsky has been named president and CEO of Sugar Bowl/Royal Gorge effective Oct. 17.

Following a six month long talent search, Legnavsky was identified as the top prospect based on her experience and vision. She will work alongside the current President and CEO Greg Dallas as he transitions to a vice-chairman role focused on execution of the resort’s master plan.

Legnavsky has worked in the ski industry for over 30 years, starting as a ski instructor working at resorts across the globe, including several seasons in the U.S. at Breckenridge and Aspen. In 2014, she assumed the role of General Manager at Cardrona Alpine Resort in her native New Zealand. While at Cardrona, the resort saw impressive growth in skier visits by shifting focus to terrain parks and a highly engaged workforce. In 2020, Legnavsky’s responsibilities were expanded to include oversight of a second resort, Treble Cone Ski Area. Most recently, she worked for RealNZ, the parent company of Cardrona and Treble Cone, as the Chief Experience Officer while managing both ski areas. In addition to her role at the resorts, Legnavsky was heavily involved with the community focused on workforce strategy for New Zealand tourism, serving as deputy chair for a local college, board member for the Wanaka Chamber of Commerce and was involved with multiple environmental initiatives around the country.

“Bridget is a born leader and will bring a great new perspective to the Sugar Bowl/Royal Gorge operation. Fortunately, she is stepping into an organization with a solid foundation so she can start day one focused on key initiatives like workforce development and community outreach,” said David Tunnell, chairman of the board – Sugar Bowl Corporation. “I am incredibly proud of where Greg has taken the resort over the past seven years. He led our company and community through some of the most challenging circumstances in decades. Yet, our independent brand is in a strong financial position, and the community continues to grow. I’m especially appreciative of his work taking the master plan from a dream to a reality approved by our community.”

The Sugar Bowl Homeowners Association recently passed a vote in support of the development plan, which includes an expansion of the Judah Base Area, a children’s ski school center, a new boutique hotel and more. “I’ve had the pleasure to work for Sugar Bowl, a truly independent and iconic resort, over the past seven years. As a team, we’ve worked to honor the history and charm of this iconic resort by focusing on the best possible on-snow experience. We have stayed true to the founders’ vision to deliver a warm and authentic alpine experience for our community. I look forward to working with Bridget to bolster the organization and see the master plan come to life, which is exciting for the entire region,” said Dallas.

“I feel incredibly privileged and simultaneously absolutely stoked for the opportunity to work with the team at Sugar Bowl/Royal Gorge to define its future. While focused on excellence and performance, we will always look to retain, celebrate, and bring to life the unique character of the resort and community,” said Legnavsky. “Greg and the board have built a talented team who already run a terrific operation. In the short-term, we will be focused wholeheartedly on our people, supporting them to be the best they can be and love the place they work so that they can deliver even more magical experiences for everyone.”

Legnavsky will move from New Zealand to the U.S. this fall with her husband Peter and two children, ages 16 and 12. A family engulfed in snowsports, Peter is an Olympic ski coach for their son Gustav, an Olympic freeskier in the halfpipe. Their daughter, Zora, is focused on ski racing and will attend the Sugar Bowl Academy this winter.

Climate action on local level more important now than ever (Opinion)

It’s 2022, just eight years from the IPCC’s “deadline” to achieve a 50% reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions in order to avoid catastrophic and irreversible damage to our climate. If we cannot accomplish this, the science tells us we will set into motion ecological processes that will further catapult humans into an unlivable world.

With constant climate doomism in the national media, it’s hard to maintain hope about the future of our planet and the ability of human beings to meet the challenge we face after witnessing inaction from our leaders for more than four decades. However, the Inflation Reduction Act has given new life to federal climate policy potential. Still, there is somewhere even more important to focus. 

Too often in this country, the focus is political action on the federal level. While the federal government certainly has the potential to make the highest-leverage impact on our policies and lives, local government is where political action begins. Of course, the decisions of the federal government will play a significant role in this country’s ability to address climate change impacts – to rework the very systems in place responsible for our unprecedented levels of greenhouse gas emissions. But, it is at the local level that you can make real change. 

In the face of decades of federal inaction, local governments around the country have taken responsibility into their own hands. Cities, counties, and towns around this nation have enacted their own climate action plans, greenhouse gas reduction goals, ambitious clean energy projects, and the like to step up to the challenge, much like our own communities of Truckee and South Lake Tahoe. Coincidentally, local government is also where your voice is the most heard. There are several reasons I believe this to be a much more productive exercise than tailoring your efforts to the federal government level. 

Local governments develop planning documents, pass resolutions, adopt policies, and implement programs that are tailored to the specific challenges and objectives of their local community. For example, if the federal government passed a law that required all new buildings across the nation to include solar photovoltaic arrays, that would be a nonsensical policy. Solar energy is only cost-efficient and effective at producing reliable renewable energy in specific areas of the country, while wind, geothermal, biomass, or hydropower energy may be more appropriate in others. Empowering local governments to tailor their climate change solutions to the needs of their region makes much more sense.

Local energy systems are significantly more efficient than the long-range transmission systems we currently utilize in this country. For every mile that electricity travels across transmission grid infrastructure, the percentage of electricity that is lost increases, due to a physics phenomenon, called the Joule effect. By siting renewable energy generation facilities within (or at least around) the boundaries of a community, that community is able to maximize the resiliency and efficiency of their electricity system.

Another great benefit to localized energy systems is the ability to create a microgrid, which is essentially an isolated electricity grid with generation and storage facilities, which can function with or without the broader electricity grid turned on. In the example of wildfire, microgrids allow local water systems to maintain function without the broader grid, meaning that firefighters can pump water to fight wildfires, saving lives and homes, even when our utility companies shut off the power. 

The last benefit to localizing I want to discuss is the economic one. When critical infrastructure and systems are localized, or when a local government passes climate policy specific to their community’s needs, local jobs are created, climate adaptation measures are tailored to the local and regional environment, community members have the opportunity to get training and education in trades that contribute to these systems and new infrastructure, and the thus the local economic cycle benefits.

Petition your local government to work towards localizing your community’s energy system. Attend city/town Ccouncil meetings and let your elected officials know that you want every decision being made to be aligned with your community’s sustainability/renewable energy/climate mitigation or adaptation goals. Vote for elected officials that will make these issues a priority.

The message here is not that you should disengage politically on the federal level. Of course, all political activism matters and contributes to the greater good. However, I believe that if we all focused more of our efforts on transforming our communities into the world we wanted to see at large, then one by one, communities across America would change for the better. The whole is the sum of its parts. There are too many issues in the world today to address as a single individual. Use your time wisely and transform your community, because it is the most effective and efficient manner that we will be able to address climate change. 

Jackson Realo lives in South Lake Tahoe and is a volunteer with the North Tahoe Chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, as well as the South Lake Tahoe 100% Renewable Committee and Tahoe Climate Change Action Network. He spends his free time enjoying the access to outdoor recreation like skiing, kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, and continuing to foster his relationship with the mountains. 

Letters to the Editor: Yes on V; Henderson for airport board (Opinion)

Support Chris Henderson for Truckee airport board

To the Editor:

If there is one thing our Truckee Tahoe Airport needs right now it’s strong financial oversight.

Chris Henderson’s background in finance and institutional investment is spot-on what we need in that airport board room. I read the airport’s financial study that shows how money is being used to subsidize airport activities. I find this unacceptable and so does Chris, which is why he has my vote.

I hope you can support this very qualified candidate. We need more people like him watching out for us. Thank you.

Margo Laustsen, Truckee

Suffering from high fire anxiety? Vote yes on Measure V

To the Editor:

I think I am suffering from HFA (High Fire Anxiety). How about you? These are my symptoms: 1. When I hear a siren, is it a fire engine or an ambulance? 2. Looking for a dress the other night because we were going out to dinner … in my to-go bag. 3. What’s my zone evacuation number? 4. My wonderful neighbor just cleared his property of flammable brush, but I cannot afford to do the same.

The other day a good friend of mine said she understood my anxiety and sat me down over a cup of coffee and offered me hope for the future: Measure V. For only a half-cent (.50 cents per $100) the measure creates a countywide plan. Our local responders crafted the measure. She said the funds would help clear my property of flammable brush, improve warning systems and would enforce fire safety laws to prevent wildfires.

She definitely calmed my nerves.

This measure sounds like prevention instead of crisis management.

So, dearest neighbors, let’s breathe a sigh of relief and remedy ourselves from HFA Syndrome. Vote Yes for Measure V in November.

Barbara Larsen, Nevada City

Wing Foiling: New wind sport blows into Truckee

What are they doing out there ‘surfing’ above the flat water with that bright sail?

If you have visited Donner Lake this summer, you may have seen “wing foilers” racing back and forth across the water, most often starting and ending at the sailboat launch on the north shore.

A new community of wind enthusiasts from varied water sport backgrounds — windsurfing, kiteboarding, surfing — have taken up this new sport called “wing foiling” and it is moving into Tahoe like a weather-packed storm from the West. 

“The rush is amazing! The wind, the water, the speeds …,” said Ruben Sanchez, a local electrician and Donner Lake wing foiler. “A windy day out foiling can be every bit as exhilarating as a powder day in the backcountry.”  

Sanchez is a member of a growing group of North Tahoe residents who are passionate about this new sport.

The wing, or handheld inflatable sail, is used to harness the wind energy which in turn powers the wing foiler’s travel, seemingly magically, a foot or two above the water while standing atop a board. This magic is driven by the inverted T-shaped “foil” (hydrofoil), which is located below the board and gives the board lift much like an airplane wing by turning the water flow downwards and creating higher average velocities on its top surface due to Bernoulli’s Principle. With enough speed the rider goes up “on foil” and races at a crosswind trajectory above the lake’s surface.

Dirk Warner and Pablo Bori playing tag with friends on Lake Tahoe.
Provided/Ruben Sanchez

Unlike Kiteboarding and windsurfing where the rider is attached by a harness, the wing is handheld and extremely free flowing. If the wind becomes too strong, which is a frequent occurrence especially in the High Sierra, the wing foiler simply lets go of the handheld inflatable sail to depower and minimize the danger of a fall. 

Beginner boards are large and high volume so standing on the board is much like standing on a buoyant and stable stand-up paddle board. More advanced boards are smaller and partially sink allowing for enhanced performance including more technical tricks, higher speeds and even jumping.

The sport provides other advantages for water loving Tahoe adrenaline junkies. Most find it surprisingly easy to learn and safer than its sister sport, kiteboarding, as the power in a wing is nowhere near the power a high-flying kiteboarding kite generates. 

A wing foiler simply walks down to the water’s edge and takes off without the need to clear an area of people and other dangers before attempting to launch a large powerful kite. There is also no risk of tangling hundred-foot kiteboarding lines in the plentiful pine trees as a wing has no strings and can be easily released and relaunched. The wing foiling gear is simpler (wing, foil, board) and affords the wing foiler easy access to high-speed travel above the water in lower wind conditions than is available to most kiteboarders.  

Dirk Warner at Sherman Island.
Provided/Ruben Sanchez

Currently, there are very few resources for the sport available locally, and there is nowhere to buy equipment or take lessons in our area. 

For this reason, Truckee wing foilers like Sanchez have found themselves traveling to places where the sport has a wider following. The Columbia River Gorge (Hood River, Oregon) and Maui’s KiteBeach as well as locations a few hours drive from Truckee such as Sherman Island near Sacramento (“The Delta”) and Crissy Field near the Golden Gate Bridge are popular wind sports locations where wing foiling has already taken off. 

These places are known for the consistent strong winds and equally strong communities of people who love the sport. Increasingly though, as wing foiling continues to gain popularity in Truckee-Tahoe, more enthusiasts find themselves coming together, often at Donner Lake, to share stories, help each other with skill development or just hang out. 

“I love the positivity in wind sports, the more, the merrier,” says Dirk Warner, a Lake Tahoe water sports veteran. “The wing has finally brought many newcomers with great enthusiasm to the windy beaches. Old guys cruising and young kids ‘going big.

“The hydrofoil gear has come of age, and on a good day on Tahoe my wing takes me upwind to countless waves begging to be surfed back downwind,” he added. “It’s just so much fun.”

Dirk Warner “playing” on Lake Tahoe.
Provided/Ruben Sanchez

If you would like to learn more about wing foiling, feel free to stop by the sailboat ramp on the east side of Donner Lake where you will find the local wing foilers to be a friendly and welcoming group. 

There are also several useful websites and apps with instructional videos. Here are a couple of reliable resources if you’re interested in learning more about wing foiling:

— Duotone Wing Academy – app available through the apple App Store

— Complete Wing Foil Beginner Guide by Damien LeRoy – available on YouTube


Foiling and winging can be done separately to start.

The two most common ways to start foiling are by being pulled behind a motor boat at slow speeds and by renting an e-foil. For both activities, choose a calm day with flat water to increase your chances of success. By eliminating the wing at first, it is easier to familiarize yourself with the dynamic motions of the foil. 

The wing can be learned separately starting with lessons on land. 


In addition to a wing and a board with a foil, the beginner wing foiler will want to have safety gear.

The following should be considered:

— helmet 

— wetsuit 

— impact vest

— face and eye protection 

— knee guards and/or shin guards


New wing foiling gear costs between $3,000-$6000. Used gear is readily available especially in places with a high density of wing foilers as different gear is used at different ability levels, and people upgrade their gear as they become more proficient in the sport.


Donner Lake 

Boca and Stampede reservoirs

Kings Beach 

Lake Forest in Tahoe City

Kyle Railton at Sherman Island.
Provided/Ruben Sanchez

Joshua Kreiss, M.D., M.Phil., is a Tahoe Forest Hospital neurologist and Oxford-trained anthropologist. He is interested in the intersection between the human brain and culture and the ways we learn more about ourselves as individuals and as a society.

California again protecting insurance policies in fire affected areas

FORESTHILL, Calif. — Those impacted by the Mosquito Fire do not have to worry about being dropped by their insurance companies.

California on Thursday temporarily banned insurance companies from dropping customers in areas affected by recent wildfires, a day after evacuation orders were lifted for residents near the state’s largest fire so far this year that began Sept. 6.

Three days of rain helped firefighters squash the wildfire and grow containment to 60%. Seventy-eight structures have been lost and another two dozen are damaged across El Dorado and Placer counties.

California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara on Thursday invoked a law Thursday aimed at protecting homeowners in the wildfire-plagued state.

Lara ordered insurance companies to maintain residential insurance for one year for Californians who live near one of several major wildfires that have burned across the state.

The Department of Insurance estimates the moratorium will affect policies covering about 236,000 people in portions of Placer, El Dorado and Riverside counties, according to the Associated Press.

“Wildfires are devastating even if you did not lose your home, so it is absolutely critical to give people breathing room after a disaster. This is not the time to be having to search for insurance,” Lara said in a statement reported by the AP.

The law was implemented in 2019, when more than 15 major wildfires burned homes across the state.

Officials expect total containment of the Mosquito Fire by mid-October.

Protecting our waters from aquatic invasive species (Opinion)

Tahoe’s boat inspectors delivered some excellent news this month. This boating season, we experienced one of the lowest years on record of boats detected with dangerous quagga and zebra mussels — this following several years of troubling increases.

Even better news is that since mandatory watercraft inspections began in 2008, there have been no new aquatic invasive species detected in Lake Tahoe. Additionally, nearly 60% of boats and trailers arriving to the inspection stations are “Clean, Drained, and Dry” which shows that boaters are increasingly aware of the program mantra and the most important way to prevent AIS from being transported. 

Program managers with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the Tahoe Resource Conservation District credit an additional focus on boater education and strengthened 

The threat to Lake Tahoe from aquatic invasive species is ever-present and, for nearly 15 years, our region has benefited greatly from one of the most comprehensive watercraft inspection programs in the nation. 

Growing up in Wisconsin, I understand the broad impacts invasive species can have on ecosystems and economies. Wisconsin’s over 15,000 lakes shape the state’s landscape and outdoor culture.  The health of these lakes contributes significantly to the state’s recreation and tourist economy.

However, over time, nearly 200 aquatic invasive species have been introduced into Wisconsin’s waters. These non-native species proliferate and disrupt the natural ecosystem, causing negative impacts to recreation, property values, native species, and water infrastructure. While many Wisconsin lakes are still free from AIS, the state is in a battle to stop the spread. Resource managers there and across the nation are looking to watercraft inspection programs like Tahoe’s to serve as a model for new prevention efforts.

Managing the Risk

The Lake Tahoe Watercraft Inspection Program substantially reduces the risk of AIS through boater education, mandatory inspections and decontamination services, and early detection and monitoring programs. The program protects Lake Tahoe, Fallen Leaf Lake and Echo Lake from new introductions of invasives.

However, during the pandemic, a trend played out here and nationally that started increasing the risk and the number of AIS interceptions at Tahoe. A manufacturing shortage of new vessels coupled with increased interest in boating brought boats to Tahoe from distant waters. Many of these vessels belonged to newer boaters with less knowledge of the importance of arriving “Clean, Drained, and Dry. “

As a result, inspectors intercepted a record 28 boats with mussels in 2021, and 20 the year prior. 

Improvements to the Program

To reverse the trend, staff went to work well ahead of the boating season to better educate boaters about the risk of aquatic invasive species before they arrive at Lake Tahoe. This was done by promoting the new watercraft inspection appointment system, advertising Tahoe’s program in national magazines, and strengthening partnerships with other programs throughout the West. The agencies joined a new, nationwide “Call Before You Haul” hotline that puts boat transporters in contact with watercraft inspectors wherever they are headed. 

Even with steep gas prices this summer, boating activity remained strong. Our collective actions helped reduce the number of mussel-fouled boats intercepted to seven — one of the lowest years on record. 

These are the kind of actions that continue to make Lake Tahoe’s boat inspection program a model for others. Managers are constantly looking for ways to improve customer service and efficiency while maintaining high standards based on sound science. And more improvements are coming. Funding from the state of Nevada and the Federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are supporting the program’s first permanent inspection station to be located on Spooner Summit. 

Our inspectors can’t do it alone. It takes all of us knowing how to stop the spread of invasives to protect our waters, our recreation resources, and our regional economy. I encourage you to join us in the work to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species in the Tahoe Region and elsewhere. Find out more at TahoeBoatInspections.com.

Hayley Williamson is vice chair and Nevada at-large member of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Governing Board.

Pine Nuts: Monarchy is out of date, always has been (Opinion)

Benevolent as Queen Elizabeth was as a monarch, she could have been even more useful, and eminently more noble if she had been a schoolteacher. Unfortunately, for every Queen Elizabeth there is a Henry VIII in the closet. Who among us is too young to remember the jingle of Henry’s six wives? Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived.” This is not to forget the expression Henry had fixed permanently on his face, an expression that suggested you had just knocked over his pint.

Nor can we forget the grievances listed in the Declaration of Independence. “The history of King George of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.” Check the list of grievances, and unless I’m wrong, you will be impressed.

When Mark Twain was on the Quaker City Excursion to Europe in 1867, they stopped in Odessa on the Black Sea to pay a visit to Czar Alexander II at his Yalta summer palace. The American Consul advised our gang on how the Czar should be greeted with a smile signifying love, gratification and admiration. Then they all tried practicing such a smile on each other.

A young Sam Clemens was asked to draft the formal address to the Czar. This must have been a difficult task for Samuel, he, who would later attest, “Any kind of royalty, no matter how modified, any kind of aristocracy, however pruned, is rightly an insult. I wish I might live fifty years longer. I believe I should really see the end of what is surely the grotesquest of all the swindles ever invented by man– monarchy.”

To Nicholas Tchaykoffsky in 1906 Sam wrote: “Some of us, even the white-headed, may live to see the blessed day when czars and grand dukes are as scarce in Russia as I trust they are in heaven.”

Sam witnessed Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887, and huffed, “It was more of a spectacle for the Kodak than the pen.”

The king and the duke were not capitalized in Sam’s handwritten copy of Huckleberry Finn, but were later capitalized by editors who must have felt they were still subjects. As Huck himself tells us, “All I say is, kings is kings. Take them all around, they’re a mighty ornery lot.  It’s the way they’re raised.”           

Our American monarchy of today is money, and again I yield to our mutual friend, Samuel Clemens…

“We like to read about rich people in the papers; the papers know it, and they do their best to keep this appetite liberally fed.  They even leave out a football score now and then to get room for all the particulars of how, ‘Rich Woman Fell Down Cellar.’  The falling down the cellar is of no interest to us when the woman is not rich, but no rich woman can fall down the cellar and we not yearn to know all about it and wish it was us.”

Come to think of it, in the most flattering photo I’ve ever seen of Donald Trump, he is flashing a genuine smile at Queen Elizabeth, as if saying to himself, “Boy, would I like to have your job.” Here again, Mark Twain warns us, “This atrocious doctrine of allegiance to party plays directly into the hands of politicians of the baser sort, and doubtless it was borrowed, or stolen, from the monarchial system.”

In closing, King Edward VIII was my kind of king. He abdicated his crown to marry an American woman. My mother told me he was walking toward her on a narrow passageway in Washington D.C. one afternoon, when she asked herself if she should step aside for the Duke of Windsor. She did not have time to make that decision, as he stepped gently aside, and let her pass.

Audio: https://anchor.fm/mcavoy-layne