Friday, November 30, 2007

Angora -- burn closure extended

ate: November 29, 2007

Contact: Cheva Heck, (530) 543-2608 or Rex Norman, (530) 543-2627

Forest Service Removes Urban Lots from Closed Area

South Lake Tahoe Calif. USDA Forest Service officials of the Lake
Basin Management Unit have extended the public closure of most of the
Angora Fire area until January 31, 2008. The lack of snow cover to
leaves the area sensitive to disturbance and damage that may lead to
erosion. The extension does not apply to the urban lots managed by the
Forest Service.

The purpose of the closure is to allow for the emergency treatments,
particularly the hydromulch, to remain undisturbed until significant
snowfall reaches the area, and to maintain public safety in light of
post-fire hazards, particularly tree falls. The Forest Service treated
than 600 acres using aerial hydromulching. The mulch material can be
away easily by people hiking or biking on it, which then allows water
run beneath it or wind to flake it away, undermining the treatment's
ability to stabilize the soil.

The Angora Fire started on June 24, from an abandoned illegal campfire.
The fire was contained on July 2, declared controlled on July 20 and
declared out on November 15. The largest wildfire in the Lake Tahoe
in over a century, the Angora Fire scorched just under 3,100 acres, and
destroyed more than 250 homes.

Emergency treatments were immediately implemented to protect life and
property, as well as minimize environmental damage and water quality
impacts on Angora Creek and Lake Tahoe.

For more information, contact the Forest Supervisor’s Office at (530)
543-2694. The closure order, as well as a map of the area affected by
closure, will be posted on the Forest Service LTBMU website:

South Lake Tahoe survey

Community Questionnaire

The City held a public workshop on November 15, 2007, to kickoff the City's General Plan Update. Members of the public completed a questionnaire at that workshop which asked a series of questions related to the Preliminary Policy Guidance Package. Questions included confirming the City's existing and emerging policy principles, explaining what other principles should be included, and describing what information they would like the City and consultants to research and answer as they prepare the General Plan Background Report.

Fill out a Questionnaire ...

To submit your response, click on the link at the top of the page. You may also print out a hard copy and mail it to:

South Lake Tahoe General Plan
c/o Dan Amsden
1415 20th Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

The deadline for questionnaires to be submitted is December 7, 2007.

For more information about the Questionnaire please contact the Planning Division:

Phone (530) 542-6020

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Gronwold sentencing postponed to December

unpublished tahoe mt. news nov story

By Kathryn Reed

Karsten Gronwold gets to call Sacramento home for a bit longer. His sentencing date has been pushed back to December.
After the 50-year-old reached a plea deal in his child porn case he finally resigned this fall from the Lake Tahoe Unified School District where he had been an elementary teacher since being hired in 1990.
He was arrested at his Meyers home that he shared with his wife and two children before the start of the 2006-07 school year. In a plea agreement reached in August he admitted guilt and agreed to an eight year sentence for one count of child pornography.
His stay behind bars could be extended if he is found guilty of one count of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child. The local district attorney’s office leveled that charge against Gronwold in late September.
Gronwold has the option to face the local charge while in prison or wait until he finishes serving the federal sentence.
“We have filed charges, there’s a warrant out for his arrest and he will be brought to court as expeditiously as the law allows,” said Lisa Sarafini, El Dorado County assistant district attorney.

Angora --November update

unpublished story submitted to tahoe mt. news for nov issue:

By Kathryn Reed

Even though El Dorado County Supervisor Norma Santiago is not thrilled with how everything has transpired since the Angora Fire, she is a resource for what to do when a catastrophe strikes.
Lt. Gov. John Garamendi summoned her to Southern California in late October-early November to enlighten the folks how to proceed when homes are lost, acreage is charred and lives upended by a wildfire.
To help victims of the Angora Fire, Santiago will be setting up a one-stop office for people wanting to rebuild.
“We had a multi-agency team for tree removal. I’m going to setup the same thing for the reconstruction process so architects, engineers, contractors all have a single point of contract,” Santiago said. “I’ve heard one too many times ‘I wish I had taken my money and bought in Minden or the county or city’.”
When it rained in mid-September, Carry Loomis watched water flow into her footing. She and her husband, Tom, and their 12-year-old child lost their home on Coyote Ridge Circle when an illegal campfire wiped out more than 250 houses June 24.
They are rebuilding, but it hasn’t been easy. Loomis is critical of the county.
“I feel like they didn’t expect people to turn around so fast and rebuild. Those of us who did ran into complications,” Loomis said. “It felt like roadblocks were thrown up arbitrarily.”
Santiago said much of the frustration on her end has to do with managers making decisions that will bring flexibility to the process, but people in the field operating by the old rules.
She took her cause to her colleagues in Placerville this month to have the Board of Supervisors OK hiring someone who understands the process and has customer service skills to head the temporary agency. Funding most likely will come from the California Disaster Assistance Act. Essentially it will be a branch of the county Building Department just for Angora.
It’s possible this offshoot will operate out of the old Job One building. Santiago said they may share office space with the Red Cross, which plans to work on long-term recovery for Angora survivors for the next three years.
Santiago is regularly in touch with the Community Disaster Relief Center based out of the Pine Cone Plaza.
“They are a conduit to services. They have case workers,” Santiago said. “They will try to find resource for these folks in terms of long-term recovery.”
Burn area issues
South Lake Tahoe City Manager Dave Jinkens has heard from the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board but not the U.S. Forest Service in regards to his concerns about runoff in the burn area affecting city residents, property and the Lake.
“Permittees are only responsible for flows generated within their respective jurisdictions. The City, therefore, cannot be held liable for runoff exceeding effluent limits that originates outside jurisdictional boundaries …,” Harold Singer, executive director of the water board, wrote to the city.
Jinkens hopes to meet with Forest Service officials soon to discuss his concerns about what is being done in the Gardner Mountain area as well as possibly recouping costs for the city’s efforts to stop winter runoff.
Terry Marceron, local Forest Service supervisor, was unavailable for comment because she was on vacation.
The September and October storms have not caused any runoff issues, according all agencies queried.
“Scientists were out to the hydromulch area after some of the fairly good rainfall. It wasn’t moving at all,” said Cheva Heck, Forest Service spokeswoman.
This month the city expects to wrap up its erosion control efforts in the Gardner Mountain area and at the foot of the hill leading to South Tahoe High School.
The Forest Service completed tree removal of its urban lots on Oct. 30.
“The remaining work between now and November 30 will complete needed roads and trails repairs, eliminate remaining traces of fire suppression activities, and reinforce existing drainages to prevent erosion or run-off damage,” the agency said in a press release.
Bi-state fire commission
At the October bi-state fire commission the agreement between the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Governing Board and regional fire chiefs was discussed.
The agreement includes:
• Allowing trees 14-inches in diameter to be cut without a permit within the defensible space zone for fire protection.
• Fire agencies reviewing emergency vehicle access to properties early in the planning stages of development.
• Allowing 100 feet of defensible space around homes and 300 feet on steep slopes.
Still being discussed is the use of pine needles. TRPA likes them for erosion control. Fire officials see them as flammable material.
At the initial September meeting the 21 commissioners touched on having both governors seek a federal emergency declaration for the basin when it comes to fuel reduction. This idea was further discussed last month with a formal agreement to study the idea.
What a state of emergency would mean, funding for it and other issues are expected to be discussed at the next meeting.
It’s been estimated that $200 million is needed to complete the fuel reduction projects in the basin.
The Nov. 8-9 meetings were canceled because of the devastation down south. As of press time they had not been rescheduled.
The panel is mandated to issue a final report in March.
Board of Supes in Tahoe
On Oct. 23 the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors met at Lake Tahoe Community College, with an update on the Angora Fire near the top of the agenda.
Kathy Murphy, fuels specialist with the Forest Service, gave a PowerPoint presentation that showed before, during and after pictures of the nearly 3,100-acre inferno.
“If fire hazard reduction is the goal of treatment, then we need a more aggressive treatment on steep ground than flat,” Murphy told the crowd.
She showed pictures where thinned out areas in flat areas burned on the ground – what’s supposed to happen. Whereas the hillside going up to Angora Ridge is a total loss because the fire burned so hot and crowned even where fuels had been removed.
With the three components of fire being weather, topography and fuel, and the latter the only thing people have control over, removal of it needs to work in all areas, she stressed.
Murphy showed photos of houses ablaze but trees and bushes untouched. This was evidence of some houses being ignited by embers.
A crown fire raged in Angora Creek stream environmental zone.
“We saw very little evidence of riparian vegetation (there),” Murphy said of the densely forested area. “It’s choked with conifer trees.”
Other fire information
As of early this month, Cal Fire said fire season in Amador and El Dorado counties was ongoing.
“Due to the commitment of resources in Southern California and predicted warm and dry conditions it’s not likely there will be a permissive burn day for some time. Burn permits are required for all backyard burning,” an Oct. 24 release said.
The 45-day mail-in voting period in the Tahoe City area ended Oct. 24 with the approval of a tax that should produce $625,000 for North Tahoe Fire Protection District programs. Money will go toward wood chipping, fuels reduction, defensible space, upgrading communication systems, paying for fire suppression helicopters, planning neighborhood evacuation routes and upping fire personnel staff during critical times.
Homeowners will pay a minimum of $48 a year.
On Nov. 13, Scott Stephens of UC Berkeley will talk at Sierra Nevada College in Incline about the interactions of wildland fires and ecosystems. The 5:30-7 p.m. meeting costs $5.

Angora -- John moves back to burn area

unedited nov tahoe mt. news story

Editor’s note: This is a monthly article about one of the hundreds of people who lost their homes in the Angora Fire.

By Kathryn Reed

Boxes of All Clad cookware fill the kitchen island. A Kitchen Aid mixer is on the granite countertop. Bottle by bottle the refrigerator is stocked.
It’s Halloween. In some ways, John Mauriello is like a kid in a candy store. In other ways he exhibits signs of stress. Moving does that to a person.
He’s home – sort of. Well, he’s more at home than he has been since June 24.
“I’m tired. I’m old. I shouldn’t be doing this,” Mauriello said has he unpacked boxes.
He turns 69 on Nov. 25. He has no birthday plans. He says his life is a bit boring right now. He gives it a G-rating.
This won’t be his last move. He wants to own something – something more than a dirt lot.
Mauriello is one of the first Angora Fire survivors to move back to the burn area after having lost everything in the summer catastrophe.
“For some reason I feel I want to go back to the neighborhood. The primary reason is the bond people have is incredible,” Mauriello said Oct. 15. “This is the one case where everyone has everything in common. It’s like a magnet pulling me back.”
A few friends helped him unload his belongings Oct. 31. It was Jeff Joslyn’s house who Mauriello first evacuated to. When Gardner Mountain residents packed up, they both ended up at Gary Schank’s house in the Keys.
Mauriello’s sound board from his grand piano is the last item to be carted off the truck. It’s in the back of this 2,500-square-foot house on Snow Mountain Drive. It’s a sculpture of sorts. It’s a strong tie to what was.
“Those guys saved my butt,” Mauriello said of Joslyn, Schank and Mark Anthenien, who was not there on moving day. “I was an emotional basket case.”
His best friend, Robert Stiles, has moved out here from Texas. His is another shoulder for Mauriello to lean on as the 68-year-old figures out where he goes from here.
A new reality
“You asked me does it feel like home. I had to think about it. My response is it’s a beautiful place, a nice place to hang your hat,” Mauriello said Nov. 5. “But home to me is yours, you own it. This place is better than mine that burned down, but it’s not home.”
It was probably always going to be impossible for Mauriello to forget about life before the illegal campfire erupted into a 3,100-plus acre blaze that took more than 250 houses. Now it will be even more difficult.
Clanging hammers, the dut-dut-dut of nail guns, excavators moving dirt, contractors framing, 18-wheelers coming and going – his neighborhood is a construction zone. Houses throughout the area are in various stages of rising from the ashes.
From his deck, Echo Point punctuates the blue sky that is dotted with puffy white clouds. Angora Ridge is a stark reminder of the devastation. Charred tree stumps dot the landscape.
Across the street is a National Forest lot with the bulk of the trees still erect. Even though a few are singed, the plot looks out of place when most all the other pines have been razed.
Now what?
Mauriello is on a bit of a spending spree. His bedroom set arrives this month. Ideally, a grand piano will as well. Earlier this month he was negotiating with the people he’d bought his first one from.
He’s the type of guy who wants the best deal even though the insurance company will reimburse him. He says he’s spending money like it’s his, not someone else’s.
The first week of November he was tracked down at Lowe’s looking for throw rugs to put in front of the gas fireplace and for the front entry.
He rescinded his offer on the Christmas Valley house, but still has his lot on the market. If the contract runs out with the listing agent before it sells, he doesn’t know what he’ll do.
“I was at my lot (on Mount Olympic Circle). It wasn’t bad with those trees cut down. The views are spectacular,” Mauriello said last month. “You could see Heavenly, Spooner Summit, Twin Peaks.”
With the blackened conifers hauled away, the neighborhood looks different, even better than right after the fire. That plays into Mauriello’s indecision.
Financially, to buy a place he would be happy to call home, the retiree needs to sell the lot. Even though the thought of rebuilding has been overwhelming at times and led him to list the property, he is not 100 percent sure he wants to let it go.
Time. He’s counting on it to provide answers.
He went before the county Board of Supervisors when they met at Lake Tahoe Community College last month. Mauriello didn’t use his full three minutes to express his frustration with having his insurance company pay to remove his trees before the county decided to do it throughout the region.
In the corridor beyond the ears of the supervisors, another Angora survivor told Mauriello how she had done the same thing. They both had wanted to do the right thing and in turn feel screwed.
It means just that much less cash for them to use for landscaping if and when they rebuild.
For now, Mauriello is content to settle into the house that barely got touched by the fire, to begin rebuilding in other ways. Despite the many unknowns that lay before him, Mauriello knows he has plenty of things to be thankful for this season.

Biomass at STHS up in the air

unedited nov tahoe mt news story:

By Kathryn Reed

Ridding forests of hazardous fuels and creating less reliance on natural gas are what a biomass boiler at South Tahoe High School could do. The problem is the fine particles it would produce could create air pollution and health problems.
That’s the quandary officials are finding themselves in as they decide if installing a biomass boiler at the school is feasible environmentally, economically and health-wise.
The outcome of a Nov. 5 meeting was supposed to be a final decision – build it or don’t. Instead, reps from the school district, consultants for the district, U.S. Forest Service, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, El Dorado County Air Quality Management District, the county supervisor and Sierra Nevada Forest Protection Campaign members will reconvene next month.
“By the end of the meeting most people’s attitude was to see if there is a way to make this project work in the current codes of the respective agencies,” said Steve Morales, facilities director for Lake Tahoe Unified School District. “The difficulty remains that it’s on a school site. We need to make sure it’s a health risk-free project.”
It would be the first biomass boiler on a California school campus. The location, size, structure it’s housed in and moisture content of the slash all play into the decision.
At this month’s meeting the group decided to run a health risk analysis on emissions from a biomass boiler, initiate a California Environmental Quality Act study and begin the TRPA permitting process.
The idea is that slash piles from the area would be hauled to the school, it would be burned in a boiler and the steam created would provide heat to the school.
Morales estimates the district could save about $125,000 a year on natural gas bills with the boiler.
However, the remaining $290,000 of the $330,000 federal grant is not enough to build the system. Morales said it could cost $1.2 million to install the boiler. But the district could break even in about 10 years.
The initial expenditures have been for consultant and engineer studies and some permitting. Plus, there’s the expense of transporting the wood to the school
“We definitely support researching more development of biomass opportunities in Lake Tahoe,” said Julie Regan, TRPA spokeswoman. “There are too many burn piles for the amount of burn days we have available at Lake Tahoe because of the weather. We have a great opportunity to enhance the economic development through reusing wood material in arts and crafts.”
She pointed to areas along the North Coast and in the Pacific Northwest where artists turn scrap wood into art and suggested there is a market for the same thing here.
An irony is that burning slash piles clearly pollutes the air and drops particles into the lake. But it does thin the forest and reduces the threat of a wildfire while also making the forest healthier. A biomass facility can have the same negative impacts, but produces energy. A co-generation plant can produce electricity.
But biomass facilities are expensive to build and come with a ton of regulations. And once the forest is thinned, the annual supply of slash for the plant is minimal.
That’s one reason Mark Johnson of Golden Sierra Power in South Lake Tahoe has proposed a mobile biomass system. His company is all about renewable energy.
He said he was supposed to go before the bi-state fire commission this month to talk about his ideas, but the meeting was canceled. The December agenda was not out as of press time.
The Forest Service is a proponent of biomass, but realizes the debris and the end-user need to be fairly close to make it work. Spokesman Rex Norman said about one-third of the wildland interface is accessible by road.
“Building new roads would be contrary to water quality,” Norman said. “That’s not to say any of these things is insurmountable. There may be ways material could be brought out where there are not any roads, through a conveyor system or light on land vehicle systems.”
The basin has plenty of wood to supply any biomass boiler – 60,000 acres still need to be treated. About 13,000 acres have been treated by modern standards.
“Private industry is the one who is going to have to find end uses and networks and transportation systems to make it possible,” Norman said of biomass technology. “It will help in the long term, but if you wait to use that as a major solution, we will probably be waiting 20 years and there are going to be fires here.”

Food Column -- Polenta from Death Valley

unedited nov. tahoe mt. news food column

By Kathryn Reed

Looking at the Panamint Mountains and the other breathtaking views of Death Valley from her kitchen is how Chef Mic gets inspiration for many of the delectable concoctions she whips up each day for guests at the Furnace Creek Inn.
“I dream of food. I think of food all of the time,” she said while taking a break from her duties in the kitchen. This is her ninth winter at the inn; summers are spent at Crater Lake.
Sitting on the terrace just off the dining room she talks about using local ingredients such as tapping into the nearby date orchard. Date is one of two breads served with meals. It’s whipped into butter as well. The general store sells loaves of it.
Wild sage, salt, quail, prickly cactus and rattlesnake (until it became endangered in the state) are all on the menu at this four star resort.
Though the 44-year-old was born Michelle Hanson, she goes by Mic – as in her voice is so loud she doesn’t need a microphone. She has her grandfather and mom to thank for her culinary wizardry. At age 9 she knew she wanted to be a chef.
The duck is her favorite dish on the menu. Her untraditional pork tamales are a close second. My dining partner would rank them the same way.
A nice change from South Lake was that I actually had multiple vegetarian options to choose from. The following is one of the dishes I had. I highly recommend it. If you find yourself at Furnace Creek Inn, the vegetable lentil soup is a must. Then see if a dozen truffles can last the entire six-hour drive home.

Roasted Vegetable Polenta

2 cups polenta corn meal
2 cups water
1 cup milk
¼ cup diced zucchini
¼ cup diced yellow squash
¼ cup diced eggplant
¼ cup diced red onion
¼ cup diced red bell pepper
½ cup chopped mushrooms
2 T oil
Toss diced vegetables together with oil and roast in oven for about 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees. Set aside. (You may use any vegetables that are to your taste.)

1/3 cup shredded mozzarella
¼ cup parmesan cheese
1/3 cup shredded jack-cheddar combo
4 dashes Tabasco
½ tsp minced garlic
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1T salt
½ tsp ground pepper
Pinch of cumin
Bring milk and garlic to boil. Add polenta. Stir constantly for about 15-20 minutes -- should be no lumps. Fold in roasted vegetables and slowly add cheese. Stir well. Add remaining spices and cook for about 5 minutes more -- it should be bubbling. Take polenta off the heat and spread on a sheet pan or large cake pan sprayed well with pan spray. Let cool on counter for about 30 minutes, then place in refrigerator overnight or up to 4 hours before serving uncovered. When ready to serve, cut into manageable pieces -- squares, circles or triangles. Roll in season flour and sauté or pan fry in a very small amount of oil. Cook to a crispy outside and warm inside. Serve over a bed of tomato sauce or roasted pepper sauce.
For something different you can also grill this on the barbecue. Make sure pieces are coated well with oil or spray. Do not use flour if grilling.

Tahoe tidbits for November

Orbitz Insider Ski Index says Lake Tahoe is the No. 1 destination for skiers. The conclusion is from the number of hotel rooms and packages sold as of mid-October with check-in dates between Nov. 20 and May 1, 2008.
A benefit of the Angora Fire is interest in fire science at South Tahoe High has skyrocketed – three sections are offered this term.
Lime green is the latest gang banger color officials are wary of. Apparently a group in San Diego sports it. Members are in Carson City and have been seen here.
An accreditation team was at Lake Tahoe Community College Nov. 6 to see if the college is up to par.
Tahoe Rim Trail Association is looking for photos for its 2009 calendar.
Last summer’s 35th annual Shakespeare Fest at Sand Harbor set an attendance record at 32,770 – a 10 percent increase in people and revenue from 2006.
Ex-Heavenly marketing chief Doug LaPlaca is running the visitor and convention bureau in Bend, Ore.
Kirkwood’s ski guru Amy McCormick is on K2’s Women’s Alliance Team. She’s also a model in the latest Title 9 women’s fitness clothing catalog.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says this area has the “normal” number of cancer cases. The California Teachers Association says teachers get the disease at a higher rate than the general public. A number of LTUSD teachers and support staff have been and are continually fighting the “C” word.
Suzy Krazczek and friends raised about $7,000 at a golf tournament. Gift cards will be given to the 58 LTUSD students who were displaced by the Angora Fire.
Commissioners have formed a committee to explore Douglas County requiring business licenses for companies. Meetings will be conducted this month.
Tahoe Mountain News reporter Kae Reed has moved her business A Massage at Tahoe to 2197 Lake Tahoe Blvd., No. 8 – between Tahoe Keys Boulevard and Third Street. Check out
Hatch & Parent law firm, which has an office in South Lake, is merging with Denver-based Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. STPUD is one of its clients.
The Prostate Cancer Foundation had its annual scientific retreat on the South Shore last month, concluding that eating tomatoes and fish, keeping a healthy weight and avoiding meats cooked at high temperatures may help alleviate prostate cancer.
Since El Dorado County DA Vern Pierson created the Fugitive Apprehension Team last summer the bounty hunters have made more than two dozen arrests.
BF Goodrich Tire Co.’s Outstanding Trails Program ranked Rubicon Trail No. 3.
El Dorado County hired Doug Nowka Jr. as the director of Human Services. He has worked for the county since 1981, most recently as assistant director.
Friday’s Station on the 18th floor at Harrah’s now offers breakfast and lunch.
Out of 130 legislators, GOP’er Ted Gaines, who represents Tahoe in the Assembly, is one of 30 to score 100 percent on the California Taxpayers’ Association legislative voting record.

Kirkwood founder tells about yester-year

unedited nov tahoe mt. news story:

By Kathryn Reed

With snow at the top of Cornice and a fire roaring at Off the Wall restaurant, it could be a perfect painting of Kirkwood Mountain Resort.
But not quite.
Bud Klein describes the ski area as a painting that is a few strokes shy of being finished. Dressed in a red sweater, he looks like he could hit the slopes now. But even if there were more snow, he says too many titanium body parts prevent him from strapping on boards.
Klein founded the resort in the late 1960s, was there when it opened 35 years ago and was on hand last month for the groundbreaking of Expedition Lodge.
The 80-year-old is the epitome of modesty. His success in the business world is not written about much. And he’s just fine with that. Few know about the Klein Bros. success in the nut company – eventually selling to Con Agra in the 1990s. Or how Bud Klein founded California Coolers, which launched the wine cooler craze in the 1980s. Three years ago he gave $1.5 million to the University of the Pacific for its baseball field that is named Klein Family Field.
Many of the people at the Oct. 15 reception at Kirkwood didn’t know the significance of Rodney Strong Vineyards being the wine of choice or why it will be the Rodney Strong Wine Bar when the private residence club opens in a couple years.
You see, the Klein family has owned the Healdsburg winery since 1989. They grew it from a 69,000-case operation into 500,000 cases a year.
But it was his vision 40 years ago that has locals most in awe – the stash of powder off Highway 88, that resort that boasts of the most snow in the greater Lake Tahoe area – Kirkwood.
It was in 1967 that Klein and a buddy drove to Kirkwood from Bear Valley in a Jeep. Cattle were grazing. The land rugged and barren. He had a vision – it’s what we know today as Kirkwood Mountain Resort.
Klein and a few other guys from Stockton formed Kirkwood Meadows Inc. and successfully bid on the lease from the U.S. Forest.
“I flew over it a couple times. I could taste it, smell it,” Klein said of what it was like decades ago and what it would become.
In a private chat at Kirkwood with the Tahoe Mountain News, the youthful looking and sounding Klein recalled a frantic call he received from his wife Jane while he was in Madagascar years ago. Forest Service and Sierra Club people were on the east side of Caples Lakes with scopes. They said Chair 4 was 3 inches too high.
The ordeal to get back to the States included dealing with the U.S. Embassy on fire, being strip searched more than once, stopping in Uganda where Idi Amin was ruling, paying off bribes to keep a fellow passenger alive, arriving broke in Rome, getting a loan from a friend to get to London and then to San Francisco where his wife and attorney met him.
Klein and his partners offered a $25,000 bond to the Sierra Club that they could have if in two years people complained about the lift on the backside of the resort. No complaints arrived.
Chair 4 was finished in 1972 – the same year the resort opened.
“The Forest Service was with us in what we did and supported us in court. If we didn’t go back there, it would have been a disaster,” Klein said of Chair 4.
Kirkwood Meadows Inc. went to court to defend its right to build. According to Klein, the Sierra Club’s attorney told the judge ski resorts were pointless because people weren’t having babies so there wouldn’t be any skiers. The case was tossed.
“Everything we’ve done has been under a microscope,” Klein said.
Today, Klein owns 16 percent of the resort and is on the board of directors.
“This will be a big deal for us – that lodge,” Klein said of Expedition Lodge. “It will be built for families, not high rollers.”
Seventeen fractional and five whole shares are part of phase one of the 3- and 4-bedroom project. Owners won’t even have to walk to the lifts – one will be built to service them at the lodge. Prices start at $379,000.
But Klein doesn’t need to buy into this property. He has a 4-bedroom condo that overlooks the meadow that will never be developed. He also owns a lot that he suspects one of his kids will build on.

LTUSD bond gains steam

unedited nov mt news story

By Kathryn Reed

Even without the new school board being sworn in, Lake Tahoe Unified is gearing up for the June 2008 election. A multi-million dollar facilities bond is expected to go before voters then.
Charlie Feinstein with KNN Public Finance was in town last month to outline his firm’s game plan for the bond.
The board this month will vote to hire a polling firm to gauge the public’s interest in a bond and the financial threshold of property owners. An architecture firm will also be hired this month.
However, it’s not until February that the board is expected to formally vote on whether to go forward with the bond. These other steps are necessary precursors.
June was picked as an election date over February and November because the proposal is less likely to be weighed down by state and federal ballot items.
Each school site is expected to benefit from the bond if it passes. The bulk of the projects are likely to be at the high school and Bijou.
The district made the initial cut to receive $6 million in state grants for career technology at South Tahoe High. LTUSD will know in late February if it is a finalist. To get the funds it must come up with matching dollars. The district would be banking on voters to approve the June bond in order to have its $6 million.
Construction and automotive would be the trades being developed at the high school.

Hotel at Edgewood golf course?

unedited nov tahoe mt news story:

By Kathryn Reed

One of the largest private land owners in the Lake Tahoe Basin is looking to develop some of its Stateline property.
Park Cattle Co., which used to run herds of cattle where gamblers now lay down cash and golfers drive white balls, is exploring the possibility of putting in a high-end hotel with luxury amenities such as a secluded pool right on the golf course made famous by the annual American Century Celebrity Golf Tournament.
It’s too early in the process to put a price tag on the project or to know what type of lodging the market could sustain.
Years ago the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Douglas County approved the Stateline Community Plan, which calls for a maximum 250 units on these 6-plus acres.
“I do know they are looking to do something,” Douglas County Commissioner Nancy McDermid said of Park Cattle.
First, the company needs to do more legwork. Attorney Lew Feldman speculates that within the next year enough analysis will have been completed for Park Cattle owners to decide if they want to go forward with the process, which would include seeking commissioners’ and TRPA approval and going through the environmental process.
For years people have talked about changing Highway 50 from five lanes to three through the casino corridor and routing traffic on the loop road. Feldman does not foresee this adversely affecting the potential Park Cattle project.
“I think when you have the opportunity to have a lakefront project that happens to be surrounded by golf, you are in a league of your own,” said Feldman, who is working with the Carson Valley-based land owners. “It really is a glorious site that is sufficiently insulated from a lot of the urban character in that core.”
Stand in the parking lot of Edgewood Tahoe facing the Lake, then turn around. Up to the right, including part of the course, is where the development could occur. Some of the holes would be reconfigured.

What's up with South Shore ski resorts?

unedite nov tahoe story

By Kathryn Reed

If new lifts are what excite you, head to Homewood and Heavenly. If backcountry terrain is the ticket, Sierra plans to have even more of it. If notoriety offers inspiration, Kirkwood’s image on the cover of Ski magazine will lure you there.
The four resorts South Shore riders regularly frequent are gearing up for what everyone hopes is a more bountiful snow year than last year’s dismal dump by Mother Nature.
Heavenly expects to open first – Nov. 16 as of press time, followed by Kirkwood on Nov. 23 and Homewood Dec. 8. Sierra, with the least amount of snow making capabilities, lets the real snowfall dictate when it fires up the lifts.
Homewood transforms itself
With the San Francisco real estate investment firm JMA Ventures buying the West Shore resort last year, it was inevitable this powder powerhouse would become more than a ski resort.
Homewood’s master plan, which will include the necessary environmental oversight, is in the works. Placer County and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency permitting processes have begun.
Homewood’s owners want to build various lodging structures – some traditional hotel rooms, along with condos to sell. Commercial entities include grocery and hardware stores and an ice cream shop totaling 15,000 square feet. An ice rink, pool, spa and amphitheater are in the works.
A 14,000-square-foot mid-mountain lodge is being talked about. It would include a gondola terminal and dining options.
Construction of the first phase at the north base could start summer 2009.
But what riders will care about this winter is the $4 million detachable quad known as Old Homewood Express. It replaces the Quad Chair that took 19 minutes bottom to top. More slope time will be the norm because the new lift takes just 6 minutes.
Massive helicopters were putting in lift towers on Oct. 22.
Down the road the resort expects to replace the triple Madden with a high speed eight-person gondola. All lifts will be upgraded – some day. A lift is likely to go from the residential area at the south base to the proposed mid-mountain lodge.
Looking like all the other villages in Tahoe is exactly what Homewood doesn’t want to do.
“(JMA) does a lot of restoration. They want to bring back old Homewood. What it used to be,” said Amber Kijanka, sales manager at the resort. “It won’t be a new looking glitzy place. It will fit in with the whole Tahoe theme.”
What locals won’t like is the hit to their wallet. Prices shot up to $39 midweek for adults, $53 on weekends and $58 during holiday periods. It’s still the cheapest around.
A slight consolation is JMA Ventures also owns Alpine Meadows. For $649 riders can access both resorts. That price is for a midweek pass. For now, no plans are in the works to link the resorts. The U.S. Forest Service owns the land between them.
Homewood applied to be part of TRPA’s Community Enhancement Program. The Governing Board will decide which projects best represent the new regional plan’s quest to redevelop blighted areas through enhancing the environment, community and economy.
Homewood is looking into renewable energy options – hydro, biomass and solar are options. Already hundreds of miles of roads have been taken out of use and re-vegetated.
Heavenly’s Olympic debut
Heavenly wasn’t as fortunate as Homewood with late October lift building. It couldn’t get any helicopters to put in towers because of the fires down south.
Nonetheless, the resort expects its high speed quad Olympic Express to start transporting riders Dec. 7. The 79 chairs will be able to carry 2,400 people an hour. It shaves 7.5 minutes off the ride time from the old Olympic chair.
This opens up the Nevada Woods area, which has three new trails. One is a groomed cruiser; the other two are more like gladed runs -- trails where the trees have been thinned.
The other new run is off Dipper Express called Nova.
The resort anticipates the zip line will debut Dec. 7 as well. The 3,100-foot line called the Heavenly Flyer goes from the top of Tamarack Express to the gondola deck at 50 mph.
With the master plan being approved this year and Vail Resorts buying the resort a handful of years ago, expect substantial capital improvement in the coming years. Already about $50 million has been pumped into the resort since the Colorado company took over.
Food options are a big change for all Vail resorts – it’s all about eating healthfully. The 400,000 lunches Heavenly serves each season will now come with hormone free meat and organic dairy products.
“Every food and beverage manager designs menus based on what people in the area like,” said Aimi Xistra, resort spokeswoman. “We love avocados. Some people in Colorado are not so fond of them.”
She didn’t have specific menu changes or prices to share as of press time.
Snowmaking capabilities have been increased so 70 percent of the mountain can be flocked with the fake stuff.
Heavenly doesn’t set its daily lift prices until just before it opens. But an increase is expected. The last chance to buy the $369 season pass will be at the Dec. 15 Snow Celebration at Heavenly Village.
Last year the dismal snow totals equated to fewer people on the slopes. However, in Vail Resorts’ most recent earnings report, season pass sales for this year are up 4 percent in terms of numbers sold and 16 percent in money collected compared to the 2006-07 season.
Mike Thomas, who has been at Heavenly the last three years, is now the terrain park manager.
Less sexy news involves the storm water work the resort has done. On Oct. 26 the second phase of the first project was wrapped up at the maintenance yard near the top of the tram. Instead of water from the building and the area where vehicles are parked running into the Heavenly Valley Creek it will go through a vault which will filter out sediment.
Earlier this fall, Lahontan Water Board agreed to let the resort delay the drainage improvements near the California Lodge.
“Better technology is coming out and the manufacturer suggested we take advantage of that and the (water) board agreed,” explained Andrew Strain of Heavenly.
Four treatment vaults have been installed in the main parking lot. The filter cartridges are what the resort is waiting for. Those should come in March before the spring runoff begins. They sift out fine sediment and dissolve nutrients.
Monitoring processes – part of the Lahontan permit requirements – is ongoing by a third party.
Not all the neighbors are thrilled with the extension and consider it “another broken promise from Heavenly and the failure of our water board to enforce their own rules.”
Rod Hayes, who lives downstream from the California parking lot and who has been a driving force to get Heavenly to keep its runoff off his street, went on to say, “I feel helpless and betrayed.”
Strain believes the resort is being a good neighbor by putting in state-of-the-art equipment.
Sierra expands options
With the Forest Service’s blessing, Sierra expects to ring in the New Year by having more expert terrain available. Gates to Huckleberry Canyon of the Grandview chair exist today for people to access at their own risk. The change would mean ski patrol would monitor the 320 acres.
“We want to expand the amount of expert terrain inside our boundary,” explained Kirsten Cattell, resort spokeswoman. “We’ve seen a steady increase of skiers and riders going back there.”
Backcountry education programs will be part of the mix. Free tours will be available and lessons for a fee.
“The tour will be one run. It’s less about ripping through it (and) more of an orientation,” Cattell said. “(The lesson) goes into everything.”
Food is also a biggie for Sierra this season. Grandview is home of the 360 Smokehouse BBQ. West Bowl has the Baja Grill.
“You are definitely going to want to eat on the hill,” Cattell said. “The Baja Grill will be super fresh food made right in front of you.”
A perk for season pass holders is a chance to carve turns before anyone else. On three powder days this season 10 different pass holders will be randomly chosen to schuss without the masses.
No longer do parents and kids have to be separated when it comes to lessons. With the idea that people actually want to spend time together, Sierra is teaming advanced instructors with mixed level groups which may have boarders and skiers in the party.
“If a son is ripping it in the terrain park and parents don’t get it, you have separate vacations. This way an instructor takes everyone into the park. Instructors can help parents have the experience a child is having,” Cattell said.
The buses transporting folks from town to the Echo Summit resort are new. The school buses are gone. The new ones have bucket seats and toilets.
People arriving in a hybrid vehicle will park for free in the preferred parking lot.
Booth Creek, the parent company of Sierra and Northstar, did a little reshuffling this fall.
“With the selling of Loon Mountain and The Summit at Snoqualmie, Booth Creek will have more time and resources to focus attention on its four resorts, Northstar-at-Tahoe, Sierra-at-Tahoe, Waterville Valley and Cranmore Resort,” said Julie Maurer, VP of marketing for Booth Creek.
Prices at Sierra went up a bit. Adults will pay $65 a day and $68 during peak times.
The annual Pray for Snow party is Nov. 15 starting at 7 p.m. at the Rockwater on Emerald Bay Road.
Kirkwood turns 35
Throughout the season Kirkwood intends to celebrate its 35th anniversary. A tribute of sorts will be made to the resort during the Dec. 15 Tahoe Adventure Film Festival at MontBleu.
With Burton’s help, a progression powder program is being launched.
“It’s the only program in the country designed for people looking to learn how to ski deep powder,” said Allon Cohne, resort spokesman.
Although no major on-mountain improvements will greet riders this season, this will not be true for coming years. After years of wrangling, the resort’s master plan was approved in late October. This paves the way for the resort to go forward with its real estate and mountain development.
Professional free skier Lynsey Dyer will be back to help with the women’s camps.
Also part of Expedition Kirkwood will be snow camping lessons taught by certified guides. Gear selection, best ways to pack, snow shelters and cold weather cooking are part of the education.
Amping up the events schedule includes making the 11th annual North American Free Skiing Championships a bigger deal.
The Kirkwood Cup Series, which is open to all levels, will be a year-round event instead of just a spring thing.
Kirkwood transformed the Mokelumne trail into a skier-boarder X course.
If you need a dose of caffeine, Alpen Sierra Coffee will be served throughout the resort.
The remodeled Monte Wolfe’s is now more of a self-serve restaurant. The General Store is revamped and has options for people who don’t want to dine in.
On the resort’s website, a carpool forum started this month so people from the same or neighboring ZIP codes can find rides. On certain days Kirkwood will reward cars with four of more people.
Green initiatives are big at the resort. Last year Kirkwood focused on employees – eliminating 500 cars on the road through carpooling.

STHS 4x4 schedule

unedited Nov tahoe mt news story:

By Kathryn Reed

South Tahoe High’s 4x4 schedule seems to be less of a headache for all involved compared to the inaugural year.
For teachers, it is no longer a transition year. They know what it takes to teach what had been a year-long class in one term.
However, Carla Zezula, who teaches biology at the school, told the board last month that the 4x4 is still far from perfect. She wants the board and administrators to look into why fewer electives are being offered this year and why so many teachers are teaching during their prep period.
Students receive 85 minutes of instruction each day in the same subject, with four classes a day. Teachers teach three classes and are supposed to have a prep period each day.
The idea was to allow for more elective to be offered compared to the old block schedule. It means enough time for lab work to get completed, but not too much time to lose students’ attention.
Kids are coping better. For freshman and sophomores, it’s all they’ve ever known. Juniors now have more experience on this schedule that the previous one. It’s only the seniors who will have half their high school experience on this schedule and half on the other.
What the schedule will look like next year has not been determined. Principal Ivone Larson plans to survey staff, students and parents this fall to gauge how the 4x4 is working. She hopes for more input than she received in last school year’s survey.
On March 28 she went before the school board with those results. Only 95 of the 1,150 families, or 8 percent, bothered to respond – mostly negatively. Only 85 students out of 1,400, or 6 percent, commented – most were not satisfied with the 4x4 plan.
“It is so much smoother this year. I think people kind of get it and see the benefits,” Larson said. “Any schedule has pros and cons. Initially this was not my favorite schedule, but I’ve learned there is a lot to like about it. That surprised me.”
She hopes the board will decide before the winter holidays whether to keep the 4x4 schedule for next year and then make a three-year commitment to whatever they decide so a set calendar is in place.
The board has asked Larson to provide regular updates.
“It was brought to the board by staff at the high school. It was a staff driven proposal that they had researched,” said school board President Barbara Bannar of why the change was made. “Some tweaking was done (this year) to address issues brought up by parents and teachers.”
Even though senior Candace Prescott said it is hard missing consecutive classes during soccer season or when she’s sick, she likes the 4x4 schedule best.
“I think they should keep it. If it weren’t for the 4x4, I wouldn’t be graduating,” said senior Ruby Camacho. She didn’t do so well her first two years. The schedule change allowed her to make up classes.
Advanced placement classes have been a bone of contention because the tests are in May and it could have been months since a student learned the subject matter. To help with that, this year students are limited to two AP classes a term, though they can petition to take more.
The district will be analyzing how students do on AP tests based on which semester they took the class. The only evidence to date is 11th-grade AP English. Larson said test scores are similar between those who took the class last fall and in the spring.

Gay high school student fights discrimination

unedited Tahoe Mt.News November story

By Kathryn Reed

South Tahoe High senior Alex Boyar can rattle off a lengthy list of discriminatory incidents he has had to endure. At homecoming it was a fellow male student grinding against him while other boys laughed. Boyar pushed the kid away. The group joked that their friend got rejected.
Boyar is openly gay.
Being gay even in 2007 isn’t easy. Being a teenager has never been easy. Living in a small town makes it like being in the proverbial fish bowl. Throw all this together and it can make for some unsettling times.
“It’s part of my everyday life,” Boyar said of the verbal abuse. “I get to school, walk through the main circle where there are groups of boys. Usually one will yell out ‘Oh baby, you’re so hot. Will you date me? Or f--- me?’”
Boyar isn’t the only one to endure discrimination. His friend Ethan Niven has heard his share of anti-gay epithets. Niven is heterosexual. He dances and has been in theater much of his life – stereotypical gay interests that other students mock.
“The physical stuff has not been really bad. Mostly it’s taunts and name calling,” said Niven, a senior. People have confused Niven and Boyar – they are about the same height and weight.
It did get physical last month. Niven was walking to the theater to work on the “Tap Kids” performance at about 5:45 p.m. when Viking football players stopped throwing snowballs at each other and started aiming for Niven.
“One said ‘Look at the faggot, the gay kid,’” Niven said. “I was upset about it. I wanted the kids to understand that just because someone is different, acts different or looks different it doesn’t mean they are.”
Teacher Bridey Heidel is the advisor for Ally, the gay-straight alliance now in its third year at STHS. At the beginning of the school year she addressed her peers about what the state Education Code says in regards to discrimination and tolerance. Sexual orientation and gender identity are protected. The California Penal Code says crimes against these groups are hate crimes.
Heidel shared a survey taken a year ago that shows one-third of local students in grades 7, 9 and 11 felt harassed in the previous 12 months.
Then she talked about a letter from a current student.
In part the student wrote, “One incident during class that was especially scary happened when I was sitting with a friend and the boys behind us had been calling me fag, homo (and the list goes on) for the entire year. For the most part I had ignored it, but when I told the teacher – who promised immediate punishment for the boys – all they received, to my knowledge, was a slap on the wrist. I was upset, but not enough to risk being bashed. Then one day I left to use the restroom and these same boys surrounded my friend (in class), berating her and telling her that she was going to be in big trouble if she kept being a 'fag hag’. After that they told her that nothing would bring them more joy than to see me dead. They promised that they would 'erase' me very soon.”
Principal Ivone Larson says tolerance is the issue – that there needs to be more of it no matter the subgroup.
“Our goal is not always punishment as it is re-education,” Larson said of students caught acting inappropriately.
Heidel said race and religion have regularly been addressed, but it wasn’t until the last couple of years that students were pulled aside for using offensive words for homosexuals.
“Kids were surprised they are not acceptable,” Heidel. “I don’t think kids see the severity of saying ‘fag’.”
Football players were caught in a second incident on Oct. 10 involving Boyar.
“One of the football players was mimicking Alex’s walk. They were watching him and talking,” Heidel said. She got out of her car, introduced herself and asked what they were up to. “I told them their actions were a little threatening and that on school property he is protected.”
Cameras captured a snowball thrower on tape from the week before. The school doesn’t have to release the names of students who were punished over the Boyar-Niven incidents. Larson would only say a few students were “dealt with.”
Virginia Boyar, Alex’s mom, is satisfied with what the administration has done – as are the two boys who’ve been harassed.
“What concerned me about this is if you don’t nip these things in the bud and get people accountable, what’s the next thing that’s going to happen?” Virginia Boyar said. And she wondered what Matthew Shepard, the University of Wyoming student who was brutally murdered nine years ago because he was gay, had to deal with in high school.

Creating the right tourism environment

Unedited Nov. Tahoe Mt. News column

By Kathryn Reed
If you have a place people want to live, you have a place people want to visit. If you have a place people only want to visit, you have Disneyland.

Two things remain constant in Tahoe -- the Lake and the forest. We must focus on them so they continue to be places people want to live near and visit.

On a trip this year to Sanibel Island, Fla., I was struck by the mix of outdoor and indoor activities, conservation efforts and the lack of a tourist district. This Gulf Coast resort capitalizes on its natural surroundings, while manmade entities accentuate nature.

More than 20 miles of paved bike trails exist on the 12-mile by five-mile island. We are not a bike friendly town. Guided kayak tours meander through a wildlife preserve where dolphins and multitudes of bird species live. Sanibel's visitors' center is informative, with interactive displays.

Our Forest Service headquarters only has flyers, and Taylor Creek is seasonal. Explore Tahoe is an urban trailhead project in the Heavenly Village that opened in July in collaboration with the city, CTC, USFS and Tahoe Heritage Foundation. The first newsletter is at Cove East has great signage about birds, the Rainbow Trail works well. We need more of these.

To protect wildlife habitat at night, no lights can shine on Sanibel's beaches. Gators slither on golf courses. We must co-exist better with bears and coyotes. Do we really need more timeshares or condos on the Lake?

Plenty of agencies here work to keep the Lake pristine. The Forest Service, if politics and big business are left out, could have the integrity to manage our lands well.

Creating a wildlife park, environmental-education center and/or becoming a leader in green building and alternative energy are ways to evolve into a world-class place to live, work and play. Eco-tourism could be our niche.

Heavenly (I stole this idea) could educate skiers-hikers about old-growth. All buses could run on alternative fuels. Put bike racks everywhere.

The Stateline area -- California and Nevada -- is a tourist center. It's a locals' center only because it provides employment.

Just as people here need to be better integrated, so do all aspects of our community. The us vs. them mentality isn’t working. One side of town should not be for tourists and the other for locals. The South Shore needs to be one to survive.

Sanibel has all types of lodging throughout the island. Holiday Inn is the only hotel chain I saw. The other chains: Starbucks, Subway and Dairy Queen.

Their chamber of commerce sent us info. We perused it, the Internet and the info Casa Ybel Resort provided in our condo. We read about bike rentals, the shell museum, shelling, a day spa, the national wildlife refuge, historic village-museum, boat cruises-tours-rentals, restaurants and lodging.

Anonymously I called our South Shore chamber for a tourist packet. They transferred me to the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority. I was told they have one bad brochure they didn't want to send. LTVA directed me to I typed "hiking trails," and got uninformative press releases. I typed "bike rentals" and got one outfit on Ski Run.

Even though the Nevada-based chamber is a private member-run entity, the California city I live and work in handed them our tax dollars. The council should feel dirty. Two of the backers are up for election next year and then I can have my vote. LTVA receives bucks from South Lake Tahoe, too, but isn’t a member-driven organization.

Are tourists getting what they need? What about people new to the area? What about locals wanting to find out about trails or history? Could the city do a better job by spending $65,000 on a public information officer instead of doling out $350,000 to the LTVA? We won’t know this budget cycle. Shame on them.

Sanibel maps have bike routes and places to visit. Maps I've seen of the South Shore list advertisers. LTVA dollars could create a map depicting road bike-mountain bike-walking trails, Tallac Historic Site, marinas, ski resorts, casinos and all points of interest.

The Lake Tahoe Bike Coalition, which has an outdated website, produced a map this year. I’m not sure if it is bad or our trail system just proves we’re not bike friendly.

Sanibel preserves history by bringing old buildings into one area. One house is a museum -- the other buildings give a sense of yester-year on the island. Do people know South Lake has a museum? Do we care about the Celio Ranch or the Barton house?

A thriving town people want to live in is rich in arts and culture. This has been mentioned at TRPA's placed based planning meetings and at the tourism conference in May. Is anyone listening?

We need to make Lake Tahoe an environmental destination -- where we are better educated about our surroundings, play in a manner that is ecologically and environmentally logical, and where wildlife and the land are better off instead of our footprint destroying this natural wonder.

TRPA goes green

unedited Tahoe Mt. News Nov. story

TRPA – a green trendsetter

By Kathryn Reed

Now that TRPA owns the Stateline building where it’s headquartered, a few changes are being made. It’s practically going to be an environmental demonstration site.
Sierra Pacific Power has awarded the bi-state regulatory agency $150,000 to spend on solar. The problem is a 30,000 watt setup costs $350,000. The agency hopes to come up with the remaining $200,000 in the first half of 2008.
Tahoe Regional Planning Agency staff has discovered leasing the equipment is not an option because the Nevada Public Utility Commission says no way. So, getting a loan or grants to finance the purchase is probably what it will take.
Fortunately, the grant doesn’t have an expiration date so TRPA has time to work out the money issue.
The grant does stipulate Sierra Pacific would be the beneficiary of any excess power generated by the solar panels.
Even though there is a significant cost outlay, TRPA today spends about $35,000 a year on energy bills. Those would fade away with solar. In theory, the savings could pay for a loan it might need to purchase the solar equipment.
Besides solar, the agency is investing in hybrid vehicles. They have three Toyota Prius and a Ford Escape.
“We have money right now from Nevada to purchase eight more hybrids. We can’t spend the money until we get a match from California. We are working on the California portion,” said Dennis Oliver, TRPA spokesman.
In April, the agency will have use of the Honda FCX for six months. The New York Times describes the $1 million hydrogen fueled vehicle as “a cross between a compact – say, a Volkswagen Golf – and a cinder block.”
TRPA is also upgrading its best management practices to meet its own requirements – something the previous owners had not done.

Tahoe ski resorts prepare for season

Friday, November 16, 2007

Sacramento Business Journal - by Kathryn Reed Correspondent

Lake Tahoe ski-industry leaders are more focused on the anticipation of carving turns than on carving turkeys in late November.

"I've never made or believed predictions about snow," said Blaise Carrig, chief operating officer for Heavenly Mountain Resort. "It will come. That's been my approach."

The National Weather Service expects about 210 to 250 inches of snow this season for Tahoe City and the basin -- 10 percent to 30 percent above the average for the past 90 years, meteorologist Shane Snyder said.

Greater-than-average snowfall could help offset a lackluster season last winter.

With 70 percent of the California-Nevada resort able to be covered with manmade snow, Heavenly is prepared even if natural snow is scarce. The snowmaking guns were set up Oct. 29. Now, it's a matter of having consecutive cold nights and the right amount of humidity to be able to fire them up for today's opening.

At the other end of the lake, Squaw Valley also has ample snowmaking equipment. The resort hopes to run lifts beginning Saturday.

The problem in late October and early November is that an inversion layer often settles in, so it's warmer on top of the mountain than at the base.

Mother Nature didn't cooperate last season. Skiers and snowboarders stayed away, partly because the Sacramento region and San Francisco Bay Area were so warm and also de to the lack of understanding about how snowmaking and grooming can turn "old" snow into conditions that make the drive worthwhile.

It's been a challenge for the industry. About 55.1 million people hit the slopes last season nationwide, down 6.5 percent from the record 2005-06 season, according to the National Ski Areas Association.

Despite the decline, last season was the sixth-best nationwide.

But the figure was downhill for the Pacific West region, which includes Lake Tahoe; it fell 14.3 percent from 2005-06.

Lake Tahoe resorts should rebound this season, according to Orbitz Insider Ski Index. Squaw Valley, about 90 minutes from downtown Sacramento, is the leading destination for skiers this season, the report said, based on hotel rooms and trip packages sold as of Oct. 11 with check-in dates between Nov. 20 and May 1.

Lift prices are expected to increase a few dollars from last year with more skiers.

A dismal snowpack beyond the holidays compounded last season's problems.

"For a ski resort, Christmas is the busiest time and lowest snowpack," Squaw spokeswoman Savannah Cowley. "It just makes us all very stressed out."

And the snowpack contained only about 40 percent of the average amount of water on April 1, the lowest figure for the month since 1988, according to the state Department of Water Resources.

Heavenly destination
Despite the lower-than-average snowfall -- and revenue -- resort operators invested in capital improvements for this season. Heavenly, Homewood and Squaw will have new chair lifts.

Since Vail Resorts bought Heavenly in 2002, three high-speed lifts have been installed. The Olympic Express on the Nevada side is expected to be operating in early December. A zipline that propels riders at speeds of 50 mph with views of the lake opens next month.

Three new trails have been created in the area. Another trail off the Dipper Express chair is also new this season.

"We just approved the master plan, and it has some pretty important improvements that will make Heavenly a significantly better experience," Carrig said.

More lifts, trails and on-mountain lodges will be part of the resort in the coming years.

The $420 million hotel-condo-convention center project across the street from Heavenly's gondola looks like a big crater as crews work on the underground portion of the project. Dilapidated hotels dating to the 1960 Squaw Valley Winter Olympics once stood there.

RockResorts, which is owned by Vail Resorts, will run the 268-room Heavenly Chateau and the other 87-room, yet-to-be-named boutique hotel.

Master plans
Alpine Meadows Ski Resort and Homewood Mountain Resort were bought this year by San Francisco real estate development firm JMA Ventures. Homewood has a new high-speed lift that takes riders to the top of the mountain in six minutes, three times faster than the old lift.

Homewood is in the initial phases of creating a master plan. Owners anticipate hotel-condo lodging, more on-mountain improvements and base lodge changes to the west shore resort.

Kirkwood Mountain Resort, which was on the cover of the October issue of Ski magazine, had its master plan approved in October. Skiers and boarders could enjoy lift improvements soon at the 35-year-old resort.

Real estate has been the talk of Kirkwood for the past couple years, including the high-end Expedition Lodge under construction.

And with the addition of four trails at Northstar-at-Tahoe, the resort has 83 trails spread across 2,490 acres.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Angora relief center info

November 9, 2007 Contact:
Carrie Reiter
Mark Lucksinger

Angora Survivors Getting Much Needed Help

South Lake Tahoe, CA. The Angora Fire Fund Board is pleased to announce that thanks to the generosity of many local businesses, residents and organizations outside of our community the Angora Fire Fund (Locals for Locals) has received over $450,000 as of today with $446,000 thus- far being distributed directly to fire survivors.

Board President Mark Lucksinger had this to add to the great news “Equally important is the establishment of a Community Disaster Resource Center (CDRC) that has been set up as a sub-committee of the Angora Fire Fund. The CDRC was formed to fill a need expressed by the survivors as they were seeking one central place to access information for resources and assistance. The CDRC Administrative Director is Carrie Reiter and she has already begun to meet with the survivors. Chairman of this committee is long time local resident Dick Schwarte. Carrie will complete an application with each survivor to determine the totality of unmet needs and she will then turn to a multitude of resources to fill those needs either by in-kind or monetary donations. We are encouraging all survivors to contact Carrie at 530.542.4656 or to set up a meeting.”

Funds donated to the Angora Fire Fund are restricted for the survivors and thus none of those funds have been or will be used for CDRC expenses. However, thanks to the generosity of community members the CDRC was provided with $15,000 seed money from Heavenly via the sale of the Olympic chairs. The CDRC will accept financial and in-kind donations to assist the families on a “needs based” assessment.

“There are very real and significant unmet needs that the community can now help with such as volunteers to assist in the CDRC and winter supplies and items” states Carrie.

A partial list of volunteer needs and requested items appears below:

 Volunteer caseworkers (5) to commit to 8 to 15 hours per week
 Volunteer administrative assistants (3) to commit to 4 to 8 hours per week
 Office supplies such as stationary, stamps, cork board & information display tables
 A couch for the CDRC to make it more comfortable for parents & children
 Especially needed for the families are new or very near new skis, boards, snow blowers, snow shovels and related winter equipment and clothing.

“Additionally, I would like organizations, Service Clubs and Churches to know that there will be opportunities to take on special projects or fund unmet needs of the families. As it is not feasible for me to visit and meet our vast and giving community I am encouraging these sorts of groups to contact me and inform me of their specific criteria, resources and willingness to assist” continues Reiter. This will enable the CDRC to turn to these organizations over the coming year as needs arise whether they are monetary or require helping hands.”

“In conclusion the entire Board for the Angora Fire Fund would like to thank the businesses and residents of this community for really stepping up to help in such a time of need. We are moving along the recovery road, but we have a long way to go and I trust that together we will heal and become stronger as a community” concludes Lucksinger. Donations to the Angora Fire Fund will continue to be accepted and distributed. Go to for more information.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Angora relief center needs volunteers

November is a month to reflect on all the blessings we have in our lives. Please consider sharing some of your blessings in the form of volunteerism this month!

The fire survivor center, located in the old Mikasa building next to Miller's Outpost, is operating and needs volunteers. It's a donation center where fire survivors can go to get clothing, shoes, furniture, kitchen wares, and other donated items free of charge.

The goal for this month is to try to stay open Monday - Saturday 10-4. The fire survivors are utilizing our place every day that we are open. They are thrilled with the response that our community has given and continues to give to them. Volunteers are really are making a difference to those who have lost everything.

Shifts are:

Please donate some of your time and pass this on to anyone you think can help out. Call if you want to schedule a time to volunteer, or simply show up when you can.


Moksha Lea

Friday, November 9, 2007

USFS meeting Nov. 13

Date: Nov 9, 2007

Contact: Arla Hains (530) 543-2773


South Lake Tahoe, Calif. The Lake Tahoe Basin Federal Advisory

Committee (LTFAC) is scheduled to meet from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.,

November 13, 2007 at the USDA Forest Service, Emerald Bay Room, 35

Drive, South Lake Tahoe, CA. LTFAC will address issues related to

federal activities at Lake Tahoe.

Items on the agenda include a presentation on the preliminary

Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act (SNPLMA) Round 9 hazardous

reduction and wildfire prevention projects, and an update on the SNPLMA

Round 9 science themes, project nomination form and calendar, followed
by a

Public Comment period.

LTFAC consists of 20 members representing a broad array of

constituencies. The Secretary of Agriculture chartered the first LTFAC

July 1998 to advise the Federal Partnership on programs and projects

the Lake Tahoe Basin. LTFAC’s charter has been renewed every two

with the most recent renewal occurring in June 2006. All Lake Tahoe

Federal Advisory Committee meetings are open to the public. Interested

citizens are encouraged to attend. Issues may be brought to the

of the committee during the open public comment period at the meeting,

by filing a written statement with the committee through Arla Hains,

USDA-Forest Service, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, 35 College

South Lake Tahoe, CA, 96150. For more information on the Lake Tahoe

Federal Advisory Committee, visit the Forest Service web site at