Shutdown threatens Tahoe tourism, popular sites close

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Shutdown threatens Tahoe tourism, popular sites close

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Within the next 48 hours, the U.S. Forest Service will shut down all of its campgrounds and private concessionaires in Tahoe.

Update Thursday 5pm: Concessionaires in Tahoe have received a temporary reprieve and will be operating through the weekend in Zephyr Cove and Camp Richardson.

The impacts of the government shutdown are rippling through Tahoe's tourism industry. Within the next 48 hours, the U.S. Forest Service will shut down all of its campgrounds and private concessionaires in Tahoe, including popular sites like Round Hill Pines, Zephyr Cove and Camp Richardson.

Major tourist attractions such as the M.S. Dixie will not reopen until the federal government is funded.

Also, the U.S. Forest Service has canceled events like the Fish Festival, which draws up to 10,000 people to the lake.

Steve Mokrohisky is Douglas County Manager.

"A lot of the national attention about the federal government shutdown has been focused on the impacts on Washington D.C., and there's a reality that there's actually a significant impact in many cases on our local economy."

Because the Forest Service staff is furloughed, Mokrohisky says it's left up to local governments and the businesses to inform the public and come up with workarounds.

Bee Gorman, who's president of the South Tahoe Chamber, says, while summer is their busiest season, the September and October months are big for certain groups, like those who don't have children at home or take RV trips.

"It's beautiful in the Tahoe Basin at this time of year. The leaves are all turning gold and red, the sun is out, and the days are still pretty warm. When they hear that a lot of facilities could potentially be closed, that's going to impact their decision to come here."

Gorman says they're looking for alternative locations for weddings and family reunions that were to be held on federal land, which makes up about 75 percent of Tahoe's shoreline.

"And it's rather ironic that it's publicly held and yet it's the public that's unable to access it now."

Gorman and Mokrohisky say local governments and the business community will be strategizing in the coming days on how to deal with the possibility of a long-term shutdown.