Tahoe-Truckee, Calif. — With snowpack in the Lake Tahoe Basin at low levels, the U.S. Forest Service is asking snowmobilers to shift activities to locations with adequate coverage, within permitted snowmobile areas.
Snowmobile operators should avoid bare dirt and patchy snow and should not ride across streams or over small trees or brush, officials said in a Thursday statement. Operating snowmobiles on too little snow creates ruts in the soil and crushes vegetation.
“Causing resource damage can result in a citation punishable by a fine of $5,000 or more and/or six months in jail,” according to a news release. “The Forest Service will continue to monitor areas throughout the Lake Tahoe Basin for compliance to protect natural resources.”
Information on areas where snowmobiles are allowed is available at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/ltbmu/Snowmobiling.
Thursday’s announcement comes a day after the Truckee business Tahoe Sports Hub canceled a backcountry equipment demo scheduled for Sunday at Sugar Bowl Resort, due “to current snow conditions and incoming weather.”
On Monday, Homewood Mountain Resort on Tahoe’s West Shore announced it would suspend all operations until snow conditions improved.
Donner Ski Ranch halted operations Jan. 25, and several other Sierra Nevada resorts outside the Tahoe-Truckee area have also been forced to, at least temporarily, close due to the lack of snowfall.
Very wet weather systems are expected to make there way into the Lake Tahoe area Friday and last through Monday, according to the National Weather Service in Reno.
Whether the precipitation arrives as rain or snow remains to be seen, as snow levels are expected to fluctuate during the events.