LACO’s Planning team collaborated with ecologists from Natural Resources Management Corporation (NRM) to prepare an Environmental Assessment (EA) and CEQA Initial Study (IS) for the proposed replacement of the Taylor Creek Visitor’s Center at the El Dorado National Forest in South Lake Tahoe. NEPA activities included completion of a draft and final environmental assessment pursuant to Forest Service Regulations, Title 36 CFR, Part 220 and the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) requirements, completion of specialist reports (visual analysis, noise assessment, air quality modeling) and other associated activities. These documents were prepared under the guidance of LACO’s staff.
The proposed visitor’s center was necessary because the existing Taylor Creek Visitor Center was not adequately serving the park. It was undersized for the number of visitors, was inefficient and required two temporary trailers to meet the functional needs of the overall program, and was unsafe for workers to use. The project proposed to:
- Demolish the existing Taylor Creek Visitors Center and develop a new 3,800 square foot structure to be located in the area of the existing building site. Patio areas, walkways, utilities, and landscaping would all be retrofitted in order to match the new structure.
- Replace the existing restroom/storage building and temporary rental trailers with a single structure designed to accommodate current functions more efficiently and to better serve visitors. –
- Enhanced public functions would include a staffed information counter, wilderness education and permit issuance area, public restrooms, sales of maps and educational materials, interpretive program preparation, seasonal staff working space, adequate storage space, and an area for small outdoor patio talks.
- The Visitor Center would be designed to blend with and enhance the existing landscape through the use of native materials and neutral colors. Sustainable building design would incorporate “Green” technology to the extent possible and that technology will be interpreted on site as an example of “green” public building design. Design would consider LEED Certification.
- The new Visitor Center would improve visitor information functions to accommodate current visitor needs, while also meeting Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The elimination of multiple locations on the site for visitor services will streamline staffing needs.