A Voice for the Tahoe Backcountry

In 2015-16 in Lake Tahoe, the region was going through a plan for the corridor near Emerald Bay for winter travel. In the process, the regional planners had planned to close off access to an area that Backcountry skiers had used for years to Jakes Peak. During this time, a Voice for the Backcountry arose in Tahoe from a group of passionate locals to help educate the regional authorities about the usage and needed access points for our door recreation in the Tahoe Backcountry.

This small, passionate voice helped bring awareness and, in the process, began the work of a small group of volunteer recreationists in assisting regional authorities with locating and protecting local access and opportunities for backcountry adventure. But a Voice now sought out by authorities all across California and Nevada as management of resources at times clashes with opportunity for access to the outdoors.

Tahoe Backcountry Alliance

The Tahoe Backcountry Alliance started officially in 2016 and is the voice for the human-powered winter backcountry community in the Lake Tahoe area, advocating for and informing our community about critical issues affecting winter backcountry recreation in and around Tahoe.

 Fast forward to today and this once small group of passionate advocates for backcountry recreation has now developed into a significant non-profit association in the Tahoe Eco-system. Hiring their first part-time Employee, Anthony Cupaiuolo – Anthony is a long-time splitboarder, South Tahoe local, and passionate advocate for public lands access. Additionally, Anthony is a photographer and filmmaker at First Tracks Productions when not advocating for backcountry access in Tahoe.

In 2022, The Tahoe Backcountry Alliance began its first campaign as an association for membership and support from fellow backcountry enthusiasts. 

Services Tahoe Backcountry Alliance Provides

 In 2021 the Tahoe Backcountry Alliance began a Microtransit System for the North Lake Tahoe region. This service allowed backcountry recreationists to get dropped off at a trailhead and even picked up at a different one if they desired.

Speaking with Anthony, he told us that in 2023 they are working on adding a Trial service for four weekends for the South Lake Tahoe side as well. “We feel this type of transportation drop-off, and pick-up is a real need for recreational opportunities in Lake Tahoe. Not only in the Winter but year-round. We hope to show the need and success of such a program and someday, the entire region might be able to fund such a service.” ~ Anthony Cupaiuolo – Executive Director

We also in 2000 worked with the city of Truckee on public access near the west side of Donner lake. We found that there were rising conflicts with the private property owners in the area because of parking issues arising from skiers trying to get access to the area. After discussions and little research, we found a small parking area available, but the city needed more resources to maintain it in the Winter. So the Alliance and its volunteers started plowing and maintaining the lot that held 20 cars. With help from the Visit Truckee Authority this year, we raised some funds and expanded parking to 60 cars, and the TBA is committed to plowing and maintaining the space.

Speaking with Anthony, it is clear that the agency’s position in the community as an active voice for backcountry recreation has grown into a voice of reason for both sides. “A large part of what we now do is to help solve conflicts and communication problems with the public using the land and the private interests of those who live nearby. Educating skiers, for instance, on the importance of leaving no trace efforts where they park and doing their part in not disturbing the residence, for example, with loud music blaring from their radios at 6 am.”

With the help of our supporters this year, we also are reaching out and supporting other agencies that are educating and providing access to groups that may not have had the opportunity to experience the Backcountry. The Washoe tribe, for example, runs an outdoor program, helping children get exposure and access to the Wilderness. But unfortunately, we found out they didn’t have snowshoes for their winter program. So this year, we raised funds and are providing the tribe with snowshoes for their programs so they can continue the critical mission of giving access to the next generation.

How Can you Support the Efforts?

The Tahoe Backcountry Alliance now offers memberships for anyone willing to support growing access and protection of the Tahoe Backcountry. ” We have a couple of programs with benefits listed on our website, says Anthony. However, we also have a “give what you like” policy. We are always looking for volunteers to help us expand services to the region. We love the model that the Tahoe Rim Trail and Desolation Wilderness have developed, with Volunteers providing much-needed support to local agencies improving user experiences.”

Why should you join?

New trailheads are expensive, and it’s vital for us to have funds on hand when projects become shovel-ready. Your membership helps fund our current projects and future projects.

The Tahoe Backcountry Alliance is working on expanding the meaning of the word access. Access will always involve safe and legal parking to enjoy our public lands, but access also means “who” can get out there. The TBA supports Blackbird Guides and their BIPOC Avalanche Education Scholarship – and, new this year, TBA is launching a program that will allow for kids from the Washoe Tribe opportunities to cross-country ski and snowshoe.

Many decisions affecting backcountry use come from land managers and agencies, and your support allows the Tahoe Backcountry Alliance to have a seat at the table. The TBA participates in meetings throughout the year to work on short – and long-range solutions.

sierrarecmagazine

sierrarecmagazine

Publisher of Sierra Rec Magazine. An avid hiker and explorer of mountain lifestyle and adventure. I love to discover new trails, hike along rivers and hang a hammock along the shores of a mountain lake. I often great people on the trail and have found some of my favorite places from the advice of people I meet in the Wilderness. I love the sierra and just like sharing what I know.

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