The word Tahoe is a mispronunciation of the Washoe word Daʔaw, which they used to refer to the Lake. The term DaɁaw ɁagaɁ translates to “edge of the lake,” as the tribe enjoyed the warmer months on the shores of Tahoe. The Washoe tribe are the true Tahoe locals having inhabited Lake Tahoe for over 2,000 years!
When you hear someone say they were born and raised in Lake Tahoe, you might imagine a childhood full of exploring the surrounding mountains and alpine lakes. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Children from underserved communities in Tahoe often miss out on opportunities and lack access to connect with the outdoor environment.
Generation Green, a program run by the USDA Forest Service – Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU), creates opportunities for these local high school students through a summer of working and learning in the forest. In a typical year, Generation Green crews are mentored by Forest Service personnel over eight weeks. The students develop a variety of career skills, build leadership experience, and gain the confidence of making a difference in the world.
But 2020 is no typical year. When the world sheltered-in-place, it seemed impossible to run a successful program in 2020. As meetings, conferences, happy hours all went virtual, Generation Green did too. The question became, how do you encapsulate an eight-week backcountry program into an online format? The answer, you don’t. Recognizing that an eight-week Zoom course isn’t very appealing to students, the program was condensed into two weeks.
To keep this online program compelling, the Forest Service got creative. Members from four California National Forests collaborated to give participants an in-depth look at the diverse forest ecosystems and careers across the state. The program was made possible with funding generously provided by Friends of the Angeles Forest and California Consortiums. Despite the extensive modifications, students appreciated the experience. “It was so much fun to meet a whole bunch of people that were also in the program this year,” said Bella Munson from South Lake Tahoe. “Also, getting to learn more about the Forest Service and all the jobs in it was super cool.”
To honor each of the participants, donors from the Tahoe Fund teamed up with REI Co-op to deliver new hiking boots to each participant. Having supported Generation Green over many years, Tahoe Fund was thrilled to help support the students who completed the virtual 2020 program. “We absolutely love this program and the way it introduces a new generation of students to the work of the Forest Service and to the outdoors, “ said Tahoe Fund CEO Amy Berry. “We hope they will lace up their new boots and start putting their new skills to use on trails.”
Generation Green and the LTBMU are hoping to run a regular eight-week program in 2021, and the students can’t wait. When asked if he would participate next year, Ngoc Nyguen said, “Of course, I can’t wait to gain more experience for myself. My little brother might join next year.” Since its founding in 2008, 95 percent of participants in the Generation Green program have continued on to higher education, and six graduates are now permanent Forest Service employees.
The aspen trees that you see in Tahoe are called Quaking Aspens. They get their name from the way their flat leaves and lengthy stalks tremble in the lightest of breezes. Aspen leaves turn vibrant yellow due to a decrease in photosynthetic activity as the days get shorter in the fall, causing the green hue to fade as chlorophyll production is stopped. Aspens are also the most massive organism on Earth.
The nonprofits have teamed up to install nearly 450 bike racks in the Tahoe Basin over the last three years, offering secure parking for 900 bikes
With a grant from the Tahoe Fund and matching contributions from local businesses, the nonprofit Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition completed the third phase of its efforts to create secure bike parking within the Tahoe Basin. The Bike Coalition purchased and installed 100 bike racks in high-priority spots near Town Centers and one public bike repair station in Tahoe this summer, offering parking for 200 bikes. In total, the Bike Coalition and Tahoe Fund have teamed up to provide access to 450 bike racks at outdoor recreation locations, area businesses and community hotspots all around the lake since 2018, offering secure parking for up to 900 bikes.
“The Bike Coalition has consistently heard from members and supporters that the lack of bike racks is a barrier to getting people to make more trips by bike. Based on this need, we created the Bike Racks for Tahoe program in 2018,” said Chris Mertens, Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition board member. “Anecdotally, we regularly see bikes parked at the new racks, sometimes as they are being installed, and locations throughout the Basin have been very happy with the program.”
The Bike Coalition had the high-quality bike racks installed at 31 locations within one-quarter mile of Town Centers around the Lake including South Lake Tahoe, Kings Beach, Tahoe City and Incline Village. Each of the two styles of racks provided can park two bicycles.
Businesses, recreation spots and schools applied for racks by completing a short online survey. Along with the racks, the Bike Coalition also purchased five public “fix-it” stations over the last two years. The stations have been installed in convenient locations where people riding bikes can use tools and a pump to address minor bicycle repair issues for free. This year, a fix-it station and bike rack were sent to North Tahoe in memory of Pam Emmerich, a long-time resident, community advocate and champion of bicycling.
“The Tahoe Fund has continued to support the Bike Coalition’s efforts to install more bike racks because we recognize the value it offers to the community and the Tahoe environment,” said Allen Biaggi, Tahoe Fund board chair. “Increasing the amount of bicycle parking and access to free repair stations region-wide encourages residents and visitors to ride. This in turn helps reduce vehicle emissions and roadway sediment that can affect lake clarity.”
Along with ongoing advocacy, event bike parking, safety messaging and providing the Tahoe Region bike map, the Bike Coalition plans to continue to inventory bike racks. It also advocates for requiring bike parking with all new development and will continue to provide as many racks to existing locations as possible through partnerships like what has been established with the Tahoe Fund.
An interactive map of existing rack locations can be found online at tahoebike.org/bike-parking. Learn more about the Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition at tahoebike.org.
The average daily evaporation of Lake Tahoe is half a billion gallons of water. This would meet the daily water needs of 5 million people, or enough to support the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles! This fun fact comes from our friends at the UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center. You can learn more about evaporation by clicking on the article below.