The recreation and tourism partnership behind the Lake Tahoe Destination Stewardship Plan first came together during the initial shutdown of the COVID pandemic. While many destinations around the world saw visitation drop, at outdoor destinations in the U.S. and in the Tahoe and Truckee region, it surged. Responding to trash buildups at closed areas, crowding at beaches, and the need to encourage mask-wearing, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit convened dozens of partner organizations as a rapid response group. The coordination included land and recreation site managers, public health and safety agencies, visitors bureaus, marketing and communications professionals, private recreation providers, and nonprofits. The group leveraged each organization’s abilities and shared resources to manage an unprecedented surge in outdoor recreation and to apply shared goals to managing tourism.
Immediate and lasting successes stemmed from the coordination. There were significant expansions of waste management and litter cleanups. Regional visitors authorities adjusted marketing campaigns to curb visitation during peak times and launched the first Lake Tahoe-Truckee stewardship pledges. Collaborative, visitor-focused marketing campaigns encouraged mask-wearing to protect local communities and slow the spread of the virus, and the Take Care Tahoe stewardship campaign became widely influential while summer ambassadors mobilized at recreation hot spots to model stewardship behaviors and educate recreators.
In February, 2021, over 65 basin partners met to discuss a more sustainable recreation and tourism future for Lake Tahoe. Participants gathered to find a way to collaboratively harmonize tourism with equitable access, environmental stewardship, and quality of life for communities. View the workshop summary here. Among the steps outlined at the workshop was development of the Lake Tahoe Destination Stewardship Plan. This new partnership is committed to managing outdoor recreation and tourism at Lake Tahoe more responsibly and in ways that are grounded in mutual respect. Throughout 2022, this destination stewardship plan will develop and will rely on community and stakeholder input as well as guidance from experts in the field. Stay tuned to this site for more information and sign up for our eNews to stay engaged on this important work.