What is Destination Stewardship?

Destination stewardship is a strategic approach to recreation and tourism management that focuses on environmental, cultural, social, and economic sustainability. It is a strong strategy for bringing people together, engaging stakeholders, supporting economic stability, protecting natural and cultural amenities, and improving access for all. One of destination stewardship’s core goals is ensuring communities, land managers, and tourism agencies are wholly invested in the decision-making and planning processes.

What will the plan accomplish?

Lake Tahoe’s communities and economy are rooted in recreation and tourism, touching the lives of all who work, live, and play here. The region has come together to create a shared destination stewardship plan that will balance the needs of the environment, businesses, visitors, and local communities. This new shared strategy will inspire all to take care of Tahoe.

Why now?

During the summers of 2020 and 2021, along with many special places across the United States, the Lake Tahoe region experienced an influx of visitors seeking release from pandemic restrictions in outdoor spaces. At the same time, a national migration from cities to mountain and resort communities drove Tahoe property values and housing costs well beyond levels that most local salaries could afford. The force of this phenomenon turned housing and labor shortages into crises. Traffic congestion, parking transgressions, environmental impacts and litter on beaches and trails, in addition to long lines for restaurants and disrespectful behaviors pushed local unhappiness to a tipping point. Demands arose for urgent action.

A new collaboration of land managers, business owners, public agencies and nonprofits from across the region formed to address immediate recreation issues brought on by the COVID-19 Pandemic. This group secured over $ 1 million to expand Clean Tahoe’s litter program to the East and North Shores, launched an ambassador program to educate visitors, and launched a regional responsible recreation campaign through Take Care Tahoe.

While the pandemic sparked this initiative, there was widespread recognition that these issues were not entirely new and were in need of a long-term solution. Enter the Destination Stewardship Plan.

What are the measurable goals of the program: environmental, economic, community?

Foster a Tourism Economy that Gives Back
Goal: A thriving tourism and recreation-based economy that visibly improves quality of life, addresses community priorities, and supports environmental stewardship.

Turn a Shared Vision into Shared Action

Goal: Establish a formal structure to steer the region’s destination stewardship agenda with a shared commitment to action, transparency, communication, and inclusion.

Advance a Culture of Caring for Tahoe

Goal: Safeguard and improve Lake Tahoe and the region’s natural environment by enlisting all in taking responsibility to care for it.

Improve the Tahoe Experience for All

Goal: Reduce peak demand impacts through resource management, improved infrastructure and enforcement, while continuing to create ways for all to enjoy and connect with the region.

Why does the region need this?

The greater Tahoe region is seeing and feeling increased pressure at outdoor recreation areas. Compounding this is the need for infrastructure improvements as well as a greater sense of shared stewardship in the region. These issues are impacting the environment as well as local communities. As outdoor recreation and tourism continue to grow nationally and globally, unique places like Tahoe will likely become more and more popular.

At the same time, 90 percent of the Tahoe Basin, approximately 177,000 acres, is public land where equitable access for all will remain a high priority. Residents and second homeowners share this wealth of public trails, beaches, backcountry areas, and public highways with approximately 15 million overnight and day visitors annually. These visitors help create more than 60 percent of jobs and form the foundation of the region’s $5.1 billion economy.

Recreation and tourism at Lake Tahoe needs to be collaboratively managed in ways that protect natural resources and local ways of life.

Who is involved?

An unprecedented collaboration of public and private sector organizations from the greater Tahoe region, including Truckee*, have come together to develop a shared vision and destination stewardship plan to better manage outdoor recreation and visitation. For the first time, regional land managers, local governments, visitors authorities, the Washoe Tribe, and non-profits are working together on a coordinated destination management framework that will inspire all to take care of Tahoe.

*Visit Truckee-Tahoe launched Sustainable Truckee in 2020 and is also developing a Truckee Stewardship Plan, separate yet interdependent with the Lake Tahoe Destination Stewardship Plan. Learn more at

Go to the Who We Are page for more information.

Is Truckee involved with this?

Yes! Truckee’s tourism authority, Visit Truckee-Tahoe, is a vested partner in the Lake Tahoe Stewardship Plan. In addition, Visit-Truckee Tahoe launched Sustainable Truckee in 2020 and is also developing a Truckee Stewardship Plan, separate yet interdependent with the Lake Tahoe Destination Stewardship Plan. Learn more at

Is the project addressing regional housing challenges?

Project proponents and community members recognize the crisis the greater Tahoe region is experiencing in housing.

Today, more than half of all workers in the greater Lake Tahoe region do not live here. Home prices have increased 35% since 2020, now averaging $875,000. To put this into perspective, a person or couple would need a combined annual income of $130,562 ($63 per hour, full time) to afford the average priced home. The lack of affordable housing for local workers impacts qualify of life, leads to longer commute times, and poses a risk to local essential services.

The Destination Stewardship Plan has worked closely with on-going regional affordable housing initiatives, including those listed below.

Housing Assessment and Action Plan

Housing Study

Additionally, local governments in the region are managing the impact of short-term rentals on housing through their own, separate programs.

Is the project addressing the need for transportation improvements?

The Destination Stewardship Plan recognizes the challenges the region is experiencing with traffic congestion, parking at recreation hot spots, and travel options. From Meyers to Truckee, community members and those that recreate in Tahoe are in dire need of alternative transportation options and better management of parking and peak roadway use. The plan has worked closely with on-going transportation initiatives, including those listed below.

Regional Transportation Plan

Linking Tahoe

What does Foster a Tourism Economy that Gives Back mean for businesses and residents?

A thriving tourism and recreation-based economy that visibly improves quality of life, addresses community priorities, and supports environmental stewardship.

Is anything changing with the way the area stays relevant and is marketed with visitors?

Instead of purely marketing the region and encouraging visitation, the region’s destination marketing organizations are now focused on promoting responsible travel during off-peak seasons, stewardship education, and collaborating with regional stakeholders to identify and implement solutions to issues that impact our residents, businesses and visitors.

How does the plan approach growing population centers outside of the region and the growing popularity of outdoor recreation in general?

The proliferation of visitation and recreational use in Tahoe is attributed to the rise of outdoor recreation and the region’s close proximity (i.e. driving distance) to urban mega regions like San Francisco, Sacramento, and Reno. Additionally, external pressures such as climate change add to the allure of Lake Tahoe as a refuge. For example, when the nearby central valley of California experiences intense heat waves, the region experiences increases of both day and overnight visitation.

To address growing populations in nearby urban areas, the plan was developed with the larger region in consideration. For example, the Reno Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority was part of the planning team.

How will the plan be measured?

The plan’s Optimal Value Framework provides an overview of potential indicators, for main priority impact areas, for Tahoe to use to monitor progress toward achieving this optimal situation and maintaining balance. There are also threshold or early warning signals, and limits or emergency signals, that can be used for monitoring and for thinking through consequences of inaction in certain high-risk areas. Some of these are dependent on the decision to implement a new program, and may be considered for adoption in the longer term.

Who do I contact about this project?

You can get in touch about the project here.

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