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Third grade class takes part in Sugar Pine restoration


Debbie Kadziauskas’ third grade class plants Sugar Pines near the Flume Trail in Incline Village.
Submitted by Shannon Piro

Debbie Kadziauskas is an elementary science teacher at the Lake Tahoe School in Incline Village who takes experiential learning to a whole new level through restoration projects with her students.

The students’ latest restoration project is to bring back the population of Sugar Pine trees in their community, as trees in California have been dying by the millions in the past decade.

According to the USDA Forest Service, 129 million trees have died in California due to drought and bark beetles since 2010. These trees were primarily located in the central and southern regions of the Sierra Nevada.

Kadziauskas decided to use this problem as a teachable moment for her students to make a positive change in their community.

The 20 third graders planted around 30 Sugar Pine seedlings in an open area near the Marlette Flume Trail in Incline Village the first week of December.

“We spent a lot of time in class learning about how to plant a Sugar Pine, how to pick a good area, and then learning about the life cycle of a Sugar Pine and all of its threats. We did a lot of that before we actually participated in planting,” said Kadziauskas.

Kadziauskas plans to take her classes back to visit their Sugar Pines as soon as the snow melts, in order to monitor progress by measuring the length of the trees. She said that she wants to continue to monitor the trees’ progress year after year.

The third grade class was very enthusiastic about planting the trees. A couple of students took down the exact coordinates of their Sugar Pine seedlings and plan on going back on weekends with their parents to check up on them, said Kadziauskas.

“They kind of look at it like it’s their own adopted tree,” Kadziauskas joked.


According to Kadziauskas, Sugar Pines have been on the decline ever since the logging industry began in Incline Village.

Additionally, Sugar Pines can be infected by a parasite brought over from Europe known as “blister rust.”

Sugar Pines used to make up 25% of the local forest, though over the years that number has gone down to around 5%, said Kadziauskas.

“It helps stimulate more awareness of the local forests that they live in and it helps them understand the function of the forest. I think it makes them become better stewards to the area – they’re more conscientious of what it means to take care of the forest,” Kadziauskas said.

The Sugar Pines planted by the third graders have a naturally immunity to blister rust.

Her goal is to bring back the original population with Sugar Pines that can naturally fight against the blister rust so that future generations will be able to thrive in their environment.

“I think that it’s really important to make them aware and it’s awesome that we have the ability to apply our knowledge … Getting them to actually participate and visit the setting is a real effective way to spark their awareness,” Kadziauskas said.

Elizabeth White is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at ewhite@sierrasun.com

The 20 third graders planted around 30 Sugar Pine seedlings in an open area near the Marlette Flume Trail in Incline Village during the first week of December.

North Tahoe Public Utility District welcomes new facilities manager

The North Tahoe Public Utility District is proud to announce the addition of Amanda Oberacker as the District’s new Recreation, Parks, and Facilities Manager.

Oberacker comes to the North Tahoe Public Utility District from the Truckee Donner Recreation and Park District, where she spent 18 years, most recently as the Recreation Supervisor.

“Amanda represents the spirit of community recreation and leadership that we sought for this critical position,” said Bradley A. Johnson, P.E., North Tahoe Public Utility District General Manager/CEO. “Her local knowledge, history of successful programs, and network of connections throughout the North Lake Tahoe/Truckee community provide the ideal foundation to help shape the future of our Recreation and Parks Department. I look forward to what she will bring to our community.”

As the new Recreation, Parks, and Facilities Manager, Oberacker will direct and manage the staff and operations of the District’s Recreation and Parks Department, including the administration of all the amenities, rentals, concessionaires, special events, and programs at the North Tahoe Regional Park and the Tahoe Vista Recreation Area. She will also oversee the District’s community events and activities at the North Tahoe Event Center.

“I believe in the power of recreation and parks to truly help shape and build community,” said Oberacker. “I look forward to joining the North Lake Tahoe community and making it an even better place to live, work, and play.”

Oberacker holds a Master’s in Public Administration from San Diego State University and a Bachelor of Science in Sociology from Springfield College. She is a graduate of the National Recreation and Park Association Supervisors’ Management School and a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional. She is also a Certified American Red Cross Lifeguard Instructor Trainer and Lifeguard.

A resident of the North Lake Tahoe/Truckee region since 2005, Oberacker is a volunteer soccer coach and enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband and two children.

The North Tahoe Public Utility District proudly welcomes Amanda Oberacker to the District and North Lake Tahoe. She can be reached via email aoberacker@ntpud.org or phone 530-546-4212.

The North Tahoe Public Utility District provides sewer and water service to the residents of Kings Beach, Tahoe Vista, Carnelian Bay, Cedar Flat, and Agate Bay. The North Tahoe Regional Park, Tahoe Vista Recreation Area and Boat Launch, and North Tahoe Event Center are owned and operated by the District and provide recreation opportunities to residents and visitors.

Source: North Tahoe Public Utility District

Amanda Oberacker, North Tahoe Public Utility District’s new Recreation, Parks, and Facilities Manager.
Photo courtesy NTPUD

Cue the music: Truckee-Tahoe athletes pick up Olympic nominations

Team Palisades Tahoe skier Travis Ganong will be among several local athletes competing at next month’s Olympics.
Chris Dillmann / Vail Daily

Athletes from across the globe will make their way into the National Stadium in Beijing, China, next month for the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics.

Among the roughly 200 members of Team USA entering the stadium on Feb. 4 will be athletes representing Truckee, Lake Tahoe and surrounding areas.

From decorated gold medalists like South Tahoe’s Jamie Anderson and Reno’s David Wise, to those making Olympic debuts like Team Palisades Tahoe skier Keely Cashman, the Tahoe region will be well represented when the Olympic flame is ignited next month.


While U.S. Ski & Snowboard’s official announcement for the Olympic alpine team has yet to be made, several local skiers have met criteria to compete in Beijing.

Team Palisades Tahoe veteran Travis Ganong is slated to make his second Olympic appearance, and is coming off a World Cup season in which the 33 year old has posted a trio of top-10 finishes, including finishing third place last month in super-G at Beaver Creek, Colorado.

Ganong competed in the 2014 Olympics in Russia, but was sidelined in 2018 after suffering a torn ACL during a World Cup event in Bormio, Italy.

Also making a second Olympic appearance will be Truckee’s Bryce Bennett. The 6-foot-7-inch downhiller has had a career year on the World Cup scene, claiming his first career win in downhill last month.

“It’s everything I thought it would be,” said Bennett on the win. “I’ve been skiing poorly through the last few races, and here I felt really good and I just let it flow.”

Since notching his first career World Cup win, Bennett has gone on to claim a seventh place finish at last week’s downhill event in Wengen, Switzerland.

Bennett competed in the 2018 Olympics in South Korea, where he took 16th place in downhill and was 17th in combined.

Team Palisades Tahoe will also be represented on the slopes by Keely Cashman, 22. The Strawberry, California, skier — who already owns national and junior championships — will make her Olympic debut next month after posting a season-best 23rd place in super-G at Sunday’s World Cup race in Zauchensee, Austria.

Another Team Palisades Tahoe representative, Nina O’Brien, 24, will also be making her Olympic debut.

O’Brien opened the World Cup season with a ninth-place finish in giant slalom, and after some struggles in races at the end of December and beginning of January, has bounced back to post back-to-back top-25 finishes in slalom.

Sugar Bowl Ski Team & Academy’s Luke Winters has also met criteria to be named to his first Olympic team. Winters, 24, is coming off a career-best 10th place in slalom racing.

“It feels good to put two together, I haven’t done that much in my career so far,” said Winters on putting together a pair of solid runs earlier this month in Adelboden, Switzerland.

Alpine athletes aren’t officially on the team until the program’s governing body makes a formal announcement, which is expected to be made later today.


On Thursday, U.S. Ski & Snowboard announced its official nominations to the cross-country team.

Highlighting the list are a pair of local athletes making their Olympic debuts, JC Schoonmaker and Hannah Halvorsen.

North Tahoe’s Schoonmaker, 21, has had a solid year on the World Cup scene with a pair of top-10 finishes, and recently captured a national title at Soldier Hallow, Utah.

Halvorsen, 23, posted a career-best seventh place at a World Cup event in Dresden, Germany.

The two join a team that includes 2018 Olympic gold medalist Jessie Diggins.

In other disciplines, Reno’s two-time gold medalist in men’s freeski halfpipe, David Wise, is slated to return to completion for a third Olympics.

South Tahoe’s Jamie Anderson will also look for a third straight Olympic gold when she competes in women’s slopestyle.

Justin Scacco is a staff writer with the Sierra Sun. He can be reached at jscacco@sierrasun.com