SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – The California Tahoe Conservancy (Conservancy) has awarded four grants totaling $449,000 to support underserved Tahoe youth with environmental education and equal access to Lake Tahoe’s beaches, trails and mountains to expand.
“Our Lake Tahoe communities welcome tens of millions of visitors each year, but too many Tahoe residents grow up without the opportunity to partake in the outdoor experiences of this national treasure,” said Sue Novasel, Conservancy Board Chair and El Dorado County Supervisor. “These grants support organizations and programs that have a proven track record of breaking down barriers to nature for some of Tahoe’s most underserved youth.”
At its meeting today, the Conservancy Board approved grants to expand access to public lands in the Tahoe area for underserved people, including people of color and others who faced barriers to outdoor recreation. Scholarships include:
$100,000 to Adventure Risk Challenge to expand its environmental education program focused on facilitating transformational opportunities for rural, low-income, and English-speaking students at North Tahoe High School.
$150,000 to Gateway Mountain Center to expand outdoor adventure, leadership and wellness programs for Hispanic and other underserved youth – particularly those struggling with mental health issues – in the Tahoe area.
$99,000 to the Lake Tahoe Unified School District (LTUSD) to support field trips and environmental education programs that provide experiential learning activities for LTUSD students, most of whom are underserved.
$100,000 to the Tahoe Rim Trail Association to improve the inclusion and accessibility of the Tahoe Rim Trail system.
Deep inequalities exist in the racial mix of visitors to public lands. Federal data shows that between 88 and 95 percent of visitors to public lands nationwide are white. The percentage of African American and Hispanic/Latino visitors is much lower than the population representation of these groups. Portions of Kings Beach and South Lake Tahoe are “park-poor communities” according to California State Parks metrics. Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration has prioritized policies and funding as part of the Outdoors for All initiative to improve public access and recreation for historically underserved groups.
At the same meeting, the Board of Directors awarded the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) a $150,000 grant to create a climate resilience dashboard. The TRPA and Tahoe partners will use the dashboard to measure how the Lake Tahoe Environmental Improvement Program partnership is collectively building resilience to the impacts of climate change and provide data for partners to prioritize future projects and investments.
At the meeting, the Board also amended the Conservancy’s 2018-2023 Strategic Plan to promote racial justice and better serve all Californians regardless of race. The change increases the Conservancy’s efforts to conduct racial justice planning, participate in local and statewide initiatives to advance the goals of racial justice and tribal engagement, and increase capacity for projects and programs that advance racial equality, access for all and the Enhance Tribal Community Efforts.
The Board also approved a land swap with the City of South Lake Tahoe (City) to consolidate ownership, improve land stewardship efficiency, and achieve public benefits. The conservancy will receive approximately 180 acres of city-owned land, including approximately 177 acres along Cold Creek and Trout Creek and two small lots adjacent to Upper Truckee Marsh. The conservancy will transfer approximately 7.3 acres to the city, including lakefront lots and lots with municipal stormwater systems.