D.L. Bliss State Park on the north side of Emerald Bay is off limits this summer. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

While a nearly $3 million infrastructure project is impeding access to much of D.L. Bliss State Park this summer, staffing issues could impact other public lands.

“This was a planned replacement of aged infrastructure. The waterlines have been repaired over the years, but this is essentially the original water system from when the campground was built originally by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s,” Rich Adams, natural resources manager for the State Parks’ Sierra District, said.

The state is contributing $1.7 million, while $1.1 million is coming from the federal Lake Tahoe Restoration Act.

The waterlines service the entire park, which includes fire hydrants, bathrooms, campground and park residences.

“In addition to the replacement of waterlines, D.L. Bliss State Park will also receive new water storage tanks, new pressure reducers along the elevation drop, and new fire hydrants throughout the park for fire protection to support public safety and wildfire resilience,” Adams said.

A sign as one turns into the park off Highway 89 flashes saying the park is closed to vehicles, indicates whether hiking is allowed that particular day, and reminds visitors there are no services—which means no bathrooms and to carry out your garbage.

Parking spots may be available near the closed visitors center depending on construction needs and restrictions. These are located before one gets to the kiosk where payment is usually made. A locked gate prohibits people from driving farther.

From these spaces people can walk to Lake Tahoe. Lester Beach is a 2-mile trek, while it’s 1 mile to get to the Rubicon trailhead. At various times the only access to the Rubicon trail and other points within Bliss will be via Vikingsholm/Emerald Bay State Park.

California State Parks said other than the Bliss, all parks in the basin will be open as normal even as workers are still being recruited. The deadline to apply for peace officer exams was extended to July 31. Seasonal positions are also available—like park aides, maintenance aides, lifeguards, forestry aides and more.

Lisa Herron with the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (aka U.S. Forest Service) said, “We have sufficient staffing, both permanent and seasonal, this summer to get all of our highest priority work done including at our recreation sites. Tahoe Recreation manages our campgrounds and several beaches and day-use areas and does their own hiring, along with resorts that are operated under a special use permit from the Forest Service.”

As has been the case for the past several years, Sand Harbor on the Nevada side limits the number of people who can enter by foot or vehicle. This is for safety and to protect the natural resources.

Still, Nevada State Parks is having trouble hiring people. This could lead to days when the Tahoe park is closed. Staffing issues means the gift shop at the new Spooner Lake Amphitheater has stayed shuttered since being unveiled last November. It’s possible it could open at the end of the month.

Even though Nevada Parks intends to implement a reservation system starting this fall, day-use parks like Sand Harbor will not be affected.

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