The Hobart Work Center, located outside of Truckee CA., was created in the 1930’s as part of the CCC effort after the Great Depression. In 1961 the Hobart Mills inmate crew, CC-51, was established. Volunteers from the State Penal system took on wildland suppression duties under the supervision of US Forest Service firefighters.
After the inmate camp was disbanded in 1970, the project of organizing and assembling a fire crew to work out of Hobart Mills was tasked to Foreman Bob Riley in 1971. With cooperation from the BIA and the Truckee Ranger District of the Tahoe NF, a 32 man crew was assembled. The ranks were mostly comprised of Indian students from the Stewart Indian School in Stewart, NV. Alternately known as the Hobart Southwest Indian Conservation Camp, the Truckee Fire Crew, and the Hobart Crew, TNF engine foremen and Tank truck operators provided supervision and leadership during this time period.
The crew makeup of the early 1970’s included over ten different Native American Tribes. Beyond adjusting to Forest Service policy and “white society”, crewmen faced challenges presented by cultural differences and language barriers. From the beginning, the Hobart crews from the 1970’s demonstrated their intentions with accomplishments and successes in the woods and on the fireline.
The crew acquired Hotshot status in 1973, becoming the second such recognized crew in North Zone. The Hobart Braves crew emblem was transformed to reflect the achievement. Designed by the Indian crews of the past, the Hobart shield remains unchanged to this day.
In 1981 Celia Howe broke the gender barrier, becoming Hobart’s first female hotshot.
In the mid-1980’s the logging industry was booming, creating an abundance of project work on the west side of the Forest. Tree planting, Slashing, and Burning funded the crew in between fire assignments. So after a couple years of travelling across the crest, Hobart pulled up stakes and moved camp and duty station to the Bullards’ Bar Work Center on the Downieville Ranger District. This move occurred in 1984, but the crew was not renamed the Tahoe Hotshots until 1986.
Following the busy season of 1994, Superintendent Rusty Witwer traveled to Washington D.C. to receive the Group Honor Award for Excellence from Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman, for outstanding heroic action and maintenance of safety standards.
The Tahoe Hotshots, wearing the crest and colors of our past, continue to bring a safe, skilled, and productive resource to the fireline or the project.
Crew foremen include: John King, 1971; Rusty Witwer, 1971, 1976-77; Bob Moore, 1972; Bob Jennings, 1973-75; Bruce Edmonson, 1973-75; Mike Abe, 1976-77; Steve Raymer, 1978-79; Vic Richards, 1978; Craig Workman, 1979-83; Don Will, 1980-84; Mike Campbell, 1984-93; Jim Wills, 1985-86; Rick Cowell, 1987-95; Pete Koerber, 1994-2000; Robert Bertolina, 1996-97; Richard Gonzalez, 1998; Todd White, 1999-Present; Bobby Hubby, 2001; Luis Gomez, 2002-2005; Eric Rice, 2006-present.