California State parks released the Annual Pass program Dec. 23 which for the first time introduced the Tahoe Regional Annual Pass. The Pass Program, which consists of four different passes, allows visitors access to corresponding parks statewide. The Tahoe Regional Annual Pass, marks the start to a new promotional strategy of including regional passes.
“There have been conversations on introducing regional passes, and this is something new that we want to try. Tahoe is a region that is recognized worldwide as a tourist attraction and we know that there’s a lot of interest for that park in that area,” said Vicky Waters, deputy director of public affairs for California State Parks.
The Tahoe Regional Annual Pass, priced at $75, gives visitors access to many sites in the Tahoe area including the Emerald Bay State Park, Kings Beach State Recreation Area and Donner Memorial State Park.
“With the diversity of the park in the area, and the [number of visitors], not just the locals but also folks that do visit Tahoe on a regular basis, this would something that adds a lot of value to their visits… we would like to highlight the jewels, the State Parks, in that particular region, ” Waters said.
The Annual Pass Program has four passes that targets different interest groups. First, the “California Explorer” Annual Pass, priced at $195, offers vehicle access to 134 state parks including Southern California beaches along Orange, Los Angeles and San Diego coasts.
In addition to adding the Tahoe Regional Annual Pass, the Golden Poppy Annual Pass Program returns after the 150th Anniversary Commemorative Pass replaced it last year. The Golden Poppy Annual Pass, priced at $125, allows vehicle entrance to 112 state parks. The pass focuses on premiere destinations that include the redwood region and most state reservoirs. This includes the Julia Pfeiffer Burns and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park on the Monterey Coast, as well as San Luis Obispo and the Channel Coast area.
The Historian Passport Day Pass, which was introduced last year, permits entrance for up to four people to State Historic Parks. The Pass, priced at $50, includes entrance to Historic Parks in Sacramento, such as the Government’s Mansion, and also sites related to the California Gold Rush.
The parks received over 265,000 visitors last year, not including the Kings Beach Recreation Area, which was privately owned, with peaks on Memorial Day and Labor Day. Waters believes that the parks are well staffed and due to the new variety of passes available, will be better able to accommodate any increase in visitors.
“We try to offer the best service available, and try to continue to make sure that we are offering experiences for the visitors and they would continue to repeat those experiences again. We are seeing that this pass [Tahoe] may become popular, and we are looking at extending to other regions,” Waters said.
Many UC Davis students frequently visit Lake Tahoe. In addition to the programs offered by the Outdoor Adventures club and the International House, some students spend their time in Tahoe privately. Monica Dwight, a first-year classical civilization major, went to Lake Tahoe Jan. 1.
“When I go to Tahoe, it feels like I’m really one with nature. It actually smells like trees, and the waters are very clear. There are hiking, biking and so many other activities you can do there. I feel like everyone would benefit from visiting there because there are so many activities to do in Tahoe,” Dwight said.
UC Davis is also directly related to the Tahoe Environmental Research Center, which conducts state annual water reports in Lake Tahoe. There are researchers, a research lab, field stations and two small science education centers in the research center.
“[We focus on] the water, the food web, the physics, the air quality, the biology storm water, the climate change,” said Heather Segale, the education and outreach director of the Tahoe Environmental Research Center.
The UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center accommodates people who want to learn more regarding the environmental changes happening to Lake Tahoe and how humans can reduce their negative impact. The center has several graduate students researching on the lake every year, as well as full-time researchers.
Segale believes that visitors’ activity and mode of transportation would determine the effect of an increase in number of visitors to the Lake Tahoe area. Segale said that regulations such as fire restrictions and fines for littering could alleviate humans negative environmental impacts.
“Educated visitors, who are good stewards, will be perfectly fine and would not have an impact [on the environment],” Segale said. “There is always the potential of more visitors to have more impact, but it completely depends [on the behavior of the visitors].”
Photo courtesy of www.parks.ca.gov.