Tahoe is a place of aesthetic, cultural, and environmental contrasts. Spanning two states and five counties encompassing diverse communities, and embodying a wide range of perspectives, this stewardship plan has been meticulously designed for and by the Tahoe community.
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. 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.
A Shared Vision for Tahoe
The Lake Tahoe region is a remarkable place that is loved by many. Dedicated community members passionately care for Tahoe and have a strong desire to see it flourish into the future. Through many challenges and changes, the Tahoe region, including Truckee, has demonstrated a propensity to lean on
collaboration to find a way forward. Now, as the region faces mounting challenges and impacts from tourism and recreation – the region’s primary economic engine – its stakeholders and community members have come together to establish a shared vision for Tahoe’s future and commit to finding solutions.
Tahoe is a cherished place, welcoming to all, where people, communities, and nature benefit from a thriving tourism and outdoor recreation economy.
The region created this shared vision to address these critical challenges and improve the Tahoe experience – for all – through a comprehensive, collaborative approach. This Shared Vision was shaped over the past year by extensive public engagement, research tools and approaches, and a thorough analysis of how Tahoe’s famed tourism and outdoor recreation experience impacts the region. This vision represents the desired outcome of the Lake Tahoe Destination Stewardship Plan.
1. Collaboration and collective action are critical to the success of this destination stewardship plan and for the Tahoe region to thrive into the future.
2. As the Tahoe region’s primary economic engine, tourism must be nurtured and shaped to support the wellbeing of its communities, visitors, businesses, natural environment, and cultures.
3. It is everyone’s responsibility to safeguard and improve Lake Tahoe and its surrounding lands and forests.
4. To protect the quality of the Tahoe experience, it is vital to manage use while providing opportunities for all to enjoy it.
The Shared Vision for Tahoe is built upon four Strategic Pillars. By acting on all four Strategic Pillars, the Shared Vision can be achieved. Within the plan, each of these Strategic Pillars encompasses a major goal along with objectives and priority action steps to achieve it.
Strategic Pillar 1: 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.
Ultimately, Tahoe’s tourism and recreation-based economy must support, not harm, local communities or the environment. Smart investments are needed to support local businesses and recreation providers to create a strong workforce, pay living wages, provide housing, and foster an entrepreneurial ecosystem. Data about the economy can better illustrate how tourism and recreation support residents and businesses.
- Visibly express and explain to the community how tourism funds community priorities such as roads, transit, bike paths, housing, etc.
- Ensure TOT (tax) and TTBID (self-assured) dollars continue to fund destination organization efforts to support a healthy visitor economy through effective, responsible marketing and promotional activities.
- Develop strategies to recruit and retain a high-quality tourism and outdoor recreation workforce.
- Develop and implement strategies that create recreation and tourism jobs, invest in local businesses, and ensure that more Tahoe tourism revenue stays in the local economy.
- Encourage a more welcoming and friendly local vibe to increase positive visitor interactions.
- Foster entrepreneurship and attract tourism and outdoor recreation businesses focused on supporting destination stewardship as outlined in the Envision Tahoe Prosperity Playbook (2022).
- Prioritize attraction and development of events and experiences that embrace sustainable practices and adapt to changing climate, weather and systems.
- Support the efforts of tourism and outdoor recreation providers to upgrade and evolve offerings to attract desired visitation.
Strategic Pillar 2: 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.
Implementing this plan will involve collaboration across the region in the form of a new Destination Stewardship Council. This partnership will coordinate and guide implementation of the actions in this plan to achieve the shared vision.
- Adopt a charter establishing a mission and guiding principles for participating organizations to partner in ongoing destination stewardship.
- Deploy near-term funding strategies to support the viability of the governance structure.
- Establish a governing structure with a board of directors and committees (across region and sectors, including residents).
- Determine and maintain optimal staffing to achieve stated mission and goals.
Strategic Pillar 3: 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.
The region needs to develop an ethos of taking care to ensure recreation doesn’t impact communities and the environment. This includes clearly stating expectations for visitors when using public lands including messaging, signage, and more.
- Create a shared brand for the governance structure and a brand toolkit guiding all partners in use of the brand.
- Invest in creation and widespread distribution of a unified, regionwide stewardship messaging campaign to drive desired behaviors.
- Review Take Care program’s suitability to fill this need and identify areas for improvement, amplification, new audiences and new promoters, etc.
- Identify strategies to educate visitors before arrival.
- Develop an in-market public information strategy to increase understanding of ways Tahoe’s visitor economy supports local quality of life.
- Maintain StewardshipTahoe.org and Stewardship Tahoe E-News as tools for connecting stakeholders with shared regional initiatives.
- Incorporate culturally diverse messaging into wayfinding, interpretive materials, programming, and trip planning resources.
- Commit to developing and sharing communications in English and Spanish to increase understanding and inclusion.
- Join in promoting the Eyes on the Lake program to rapidly detect invasions and prevent further spread.
- Work with Washoe Tribe to integrate the belief that life of the region flows from the lake into messaging for a Tahoe stewardship messaging campaign.
- Incentivize and celebrate community stewardship achievements and identify strategies for businesses to connect guests with environmental volunteering experiences.
Strategic Pillar 4: 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.
Implementing and maintaining infrastructure to guide visitors to public lands can reduce impacts and provide high quality experiences. Infrastructure is also needed to address key issues heard from stakeholders including congestion, parking, and litter.
- Utilize the Lake Tahoe Recreation & Tourism Playbook (2021) as source for actions in the regional roadmap to reducing litter and improving waste management.
- Strengthen, integrate, and expand the Ambassador program(s).
- Prioritize litter enforcement on peak weekends and holidays.
- Prioritize installing bilingual litter signage at all recreation sites, especially site entrances and walk in locations.
- Support and publicize opportunities to join Blue Crews, Clean Tahoe and other volunteer litter abatement programs.
- Continue to invest in expansion of micro transit solutions connecting communities and recreation sites.
- Support regular shuttle service and consider seasonal parking limitations or restrictions for highly visited overlooks and trailheads.
- Advance the Regional initiative to create a Tahoe Basin Area Parking Enforcement Plan as a comprehensive strategy for managing and enforcing parking requirements.
- Develop and embrace an adaptive, time-sensitive strategy to manage demand and peak volume periods.