Ferries fit perfectly with Tahoe’s tourism
At a time when Tahoe’s roads are packed with traffic on any given weekend, when congestion itself is enough to repel visitors – or even keep locals from venturing out – and when fuel prices are only going higher, it was with some degree of astonishment that people are actually shooting down the idea of ferry service calling at Incline Village.
Last week at a meeting of the Incline Village General Improvement District board, more than a few people voiced their opposition to a proposal that would see ferry service dock at IVGID-owned Hermit Beach, located next to the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort & Casino.
The whole idea of a real ferry system on Lake Tahoe received a big boost last August when a federal transportation bill earmarked $8 million to design a plan for year-round service connecting the north and south shores. The plan is to purchase two 100- to 200-passenger hydrofoil type vessels that would cut a gentle wake so shoreline erosion isn’t a problem.
Apparently, the folks in Incline opposed to the idea don’t want any more tourists visiting their shores. I wonder if business owners in Incline Village feel the same way?
A real, point-to-point ferry – one that would stop at Tahoe City, the South Shore and Incline Village – isn’t just some “progressive” lark thought up by alternative transportation wonks. Tahoe has a maritime heritage beyond pleasure boats and sight-seeing excursions. Over the years, working vessels carried freight, mail and passengers – all of which were a part of the Basin’s commerce.
Sure, things have changed, but one thing hasn’t. There remain 72 miles of shoreline punctuated by bays and coves that make driving around the lake a task. Actually, something has changed from back in the day – traffic. Traffic that can actually stifle what many working people and business owners in the Basin rely on – commerce.
There is also the impact that heavy traffic has on the environment. An effort aimed at lessening that impact should be supported, not fought.
Meanwhile, tourism has been and will continue to be Lake Tahoe’s economic lifeblood. Scuttling plans for ferry service calling on Incline Village because it would increase the number of visitors to that portion of the lake is not only selfish, it is environmentally and economically shortsided.
From Jamie Bate, editor of the Sierra Sun