Faces of Aegis: The Tahoe Backcountry Alliance

All images are courtesy of Ming Poon Photography.

This post is part of our Faces of Aegis series! We're spotlighting our clients, the people and businesses who are making an impact in our Tahoe-Truckee community and beyond! Read more of our client spotlights here.

The Tahoe area is home to breathtaking public land offering miles and miles of hiking, biking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and more. However, once winter weather rolls in, these lands aren’t always accessible. This can lead to beautiful trails going unused, or people parking illegally in an attempt to access their favorite spots.

The Tahoe Backcountry Alliance, an Aegis client, is fighting to change that. We sat down to chat with Executive Director Greg Garrison to discuss the organization's important mission.

4 Questions for The Tahoe Backcountry Alliance

What is the Tahoe Backcountry Alliance?
The Tahoe Backcountry Alliance is a nonprofit organization based here in the Tahoe Basin. For five years they have worked to improve winter access to public lands for human-powered recreation, including backcountry skiing, snowboarders, snowshoers, cross-country skiers, etc.

The organization advocates for resource allocation for trailheads and coordinates with other nonprofits in the Tahoe Basin to support education, public service announcements, safety in the backcountry, and more.

Their local partners include:

A cross-country skier on the trail, with the lake in the background.

What inspired the founding of the Tahoe Backcountry Alliance?
Executive Director Greg Garrison shares the organization's origin story, rooted in a cause dear to the hearts of many Tahoe residents.

"Lake Tahoe is a cherished resource, and the degradation of its water quality has been going on for quite some time. The clarity has gone down, and there's a lot of attention being paid to that. Part of the outcome of that attention was a CalTrans project on Highway 89 to eliminate roadside parking that was contributing to silt and dirt entering Lake Tahoe from runoff.

However, in eliminating roadside parking, the project also started to eliminate access to some popular trailheads. All of a sudden a prized peak like Jake's Peak, which is not only a local favorite here in the Basin but also brings people in from all over the state and country, no longer has public parking.

At that time there wasn't an organization that the backcountry community could use as a voice. That was the genesis of the Tahoe Backcountry Alliance. We successfully advocated for parking spaces to be created for Jake's Peak."

A snowboarder in the Tahoe Basin backlit by golden light.

What is the Backcountry Alliance working on now?
The Tahoe Backcountry Alliance is part of many projects working to improve backcountry access for everyone in the project. These include:

The Historic Donner Lake Run
The Historic Donner Lake Run is a winter run that has been skied since the 1940s, passing from Donner Summit down to the west shores of Donner Lake.

Unfortunately, like other areas in the Tahoe Basin, there wasn't legal parking in the winter. Since backcountry skiing and snowboarding are the fastest growing winter sport here in the basin, more conflicts arose with residents over illegal parking and trespassing. The Tahoe Backcountry Alliance stepped in to provide a solution.

Skiers will be able to use the summertime parking area on the west end beach of Donner Lake for wintertime parking. As part of this project, The Tahoe Backcountry Alliance is paying for the snow removal of that site, the repaving of the area, and signage.

Microtransit Program
The pilot for the Backcountry Alliance's micro-transit program was a success last winter. Visitors were able to book a ride from the Tahoe City Transit Center to and from popular local trailheads. This helps provide reliable access to areas where parking is limited.

The Backcountry Alliance plans to further expand this program into Truckee next winter. Visitors will park in Tahoe City or Downtown Truckee and enjoy convenient dropoff and pickup.

Interested in reserving a spot? Watch for the calendar for this program to be posted in the Fall.

Trailhead Counters
The Backcountry Alliance users trailhead counters to quantify the usage of local trails. This helps provide evidence to local agencies to prove how popular local trails are and underscore the importance of providing good parking and access.

Other Trailhead Projects
The Backcountry Alliance is also working to improve many other local trailheads, including:

  • Castle Peak
  • Cabin Creek
  • Ward Canyon
  • Rubicon Peak

Cross-country skiers in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

What's the best way to support the Backcountry Alliance?

Share Information
Residents and visitors in the Tahoe Basin can help out by connecting the Backcountry Alliance with more opportunities to improve backcountry trail access. Reach out on their website if:

  • You know of an area that needs a trailhead
  • A trail isn't getting the attention it deserves
  • You're a homeowner struggling with illegal parking

Donate or Volunteer
Interested in doing more? You can also get involved by donating or volunteering!

Greg emphasizes "We're a young organization, all the funding we receive is appreciated and goes right back into projects and programs that we have going on."

Learn how you can get involved with this incredible organization on their website.

 

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