TAMBA is excited about the opportunity for 45 miles of potential new multi-use trails that will provide more choices, improved connectivity, and enhanced sustainable recreation options presented in the US Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) Basin Wide Trail Analysis Project (BWTA).
TAMBA is focused on how we can help deliver on our Strategic Plan and mission, which consists of four primary goals:
- Connectivity: An interconnected network of trails around Lake Tahoe that helps connect surrounding communities.
- Community: Trails envisioned, built, and cared for by a cohesive community of trail users.
- Choice: Options providing experiences for beginners through the most advanced riders.
- Sustainability: Trails that protect the environment and minimize climate change impacts through innovative, sustainable designs.
While this project is run by the LTBMU, many stakeholders across land managers, non-profits, and government agencies will be part of bringing this plan to life. The details can get very complex and our goal is to explain the objective and process, as well as advocate for new trail development. You can read a summary of TAMBA’s position and comments, and keep reading our FAQ to learn more about the details and how you can support multi-use trails in the Basin.
What is the “Basin Wide Trail Analysis Project”?
In short, the goal of this project is to implement changes to LTBMU forest access to accommodate and stay relevant with the increasing demands of recreation and the need for trail connectivity in the Tahoe Basin. The project will outline approvals for new trails of varying characteristics, and increase connectivity to communities and accessibility. Many of these projects will encourage reduced car use on roads, enhance inclusivity among diverse groups, and offer more legal opportunities for Class 1 electric mountain bikes (eMTB). The project outlines a plan to allow for new trails of varying characteristics, more connections between trail networks and communities, and increased access to Class 1 eMTBs.
LTBMU started the Basin Wide Trails Analysis Project in 2021 to begin the process and collect public input on updating trails, access, and maps throughout the Lake Tahoe Basin. The goal is to “provide sustainable access for all trail users, including e-bikes, including but not limited to construction of new routes; upgrading or developing trailheads and access points; and, changing existing routes to reduce potential for use conflict.” The official documentation on this project can be found on the US Forest Service Website.
What is the current status of the BWTA?
LTBMU collected public comment on the initial draft of the BWTA in March 2021. The revised draft was published on September 29, 2023, and a 30-day public comment period is now open until 11:59pm PST on October 28, 2023. This is your chance to provide feedback before the project draft is approved.
What does the BWTA mean for eMTB access in the Lake Tahoe Basin?
Currently, legal trail options for eMTBs in the Tahoe Basin are limited. Ridership is growing rapidly along with the demand for increased legal trail access. The USDA Forest Service conducted an extensive study on where eMTBs could have access. The initial draft proposed 23 miles of new multi-use trails that could be opened to Class 1 eMTBs and reclassifying 87 miles of existing trails to include Class 1 eMTBs, prioritizing trails that will connect neighborhoods and local communities.
The current draft has increased this proposal to 45 miles of new multi-use trails open to Class 1 eMTBs and reclassifying 106 miles of existing trail to include Class 1 eMTBs. Currently, some eMTB users are riding trails they are not technically allowed on, and this can lead to user conflict. No agency currently has the resources to consistently enforce these policies. The BWTA seeks to update the regulations to include current users, equipment, and recreation trends on trails.
Which trails will allow class 1 e-bikes?
The table below lists all of the trails (including the 45 miles of new trails) and what access will be allowed in the current proposal. View the full spreadsheet here to search for your favorite trails, and view the Proposed Action Map to see the details for your region.
Why are trails being reclassified as motorized trails?
The short version:
Reclassifying trails to “motorized” is the LTBMU’s way to allow for Class 1 e-bikes. This does not mean trails will open to other motorized vehicles.
Currently, the US Forest Service allows Class 1, 2, and 3 e-bikes on motorized trails and roads. Motorized trails are represented on the Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) in different regions.
The US Forest Service recently approved an amendment to their trail classification to allow different Forest Managers to incorporate e-bikes into their trail networks. They did this by:
- Adding “Class 1, 2, and 3 e-bikes” as categories for trail designation
- Adding e-bikes as a class of motor vehicle
In the Basin Wide Trails Analysis, the LTBMU Is proposing to change 106 miles of trails from non-motorized to motorized trails, with a designation of open to Class 1 e-bikes. That means no other motorized vehicle (i.e. dirt bike, Sur-Ron, throttle-powered e-bike) can use the trail.
For more information, check out these US Forest Service links:
- Current MVUM Map – South
- Current MVUM Map – North
How does the BWTA build connectivity and increase sustainability throughout the Basin?
When neighboring communities are connected through trails it can offer an easier alternative than driving to trailheads. Connecting neighboring communities through trails reduces the need to drive to trailheads and provides more inclusive access for residents and visitors. This can reduce traffic and emissions, and make Lake Tahoe more accessible to those without a car. We are also very excited about the potential for larger, creative loops that can be ridden by linking multiple trail networks, providing more options for riders of all skill levels.
How will the BWTA help reduce the overuse of popular trail sections and areas?
The BWTA proposes 25 miles of new multi-use trails and reclassifying 106 miles of existing trails to include Class 1 eMTBs. This expanded trail network, improved connectivity, and increased access for Class 1 eMTBs will disperse trail users and help alleviate overcrowding on popular trail sections and areas. The draft plan also proposes 3 new trailhead facilities which would include paved parking lots, thereby further improving access and eliminating parking overflow into neighborhoods. The proposed plan does not include new trail construction in areas where it is likely to result in an increase in parking and transportation-related issues.
How is the BWTA different from the Tahoe Regional Trails Strategy?
The Tahoe Regional Trails Strategy, published in May 2023, was led by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA). It was developed with a coalition of Tahoe partners (including TAMBA) to create a vision for a future connected and accessible trail network that links Tahoe’s backcountry, front country, and urban trails system. While this document was a collaborative effort, it is a vision and not an “approved trail plan”. The BWTA is an LTBMU project that, once approved, will result in new trail development and changes to access rules outlined within the plan.
When the BWTA is approved, when will the trails be built and who will build them?
TAMBA will help significantly with new trail construction around the Lake Tahoe Basin. While the details and funding are still to be determined, we hope to begin new trail development as early as Summer 2024. To help fund the resources needed to kickstart new trail projects, you can support TAMBA by becoming a member and making a donation.
What is the environmental impact of the BWTA?
As part of the process, the LTBMU is conducting an Environmental Assessment (EA) to ensure all new and improved trails, trailheads, and access changes follow required standards for sustainability and have minimal impact on the environment. In many cases, the new trail development will help reduce erosion and other concerns by designing trails in a sustainable manner.
How can I provide public comment on the BWTA?
Visit the LTBMU’s official Basin Wide Trails Analysis Project website for full details about the 30-day public comment period and instructions on how to submit your own.
For More Information: