Tahoe, Truckee conservation efforts feel budget pinch
Ryan Summerlin December 30, 2008
Lake Tahoe and Truckee area conservation groups are being squeezed enough to stop a number of projects as California goes through large-scale budget cuts.
The state has halted thousands of projects across the state supported by General Obligation bond measures such as Proposition 50 and Proposition 84 ” the source of Sierra Nevada Conservancy funding, wrote Jim Branham, executive officer of the conservancy in an e-mail.
The $93,500 grant awarded to the Mountain Area Preservation Foundation for a pocket park on the corner of Bridge and Jibboom streets was frozen by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy.
Likewise five projects slated for the coming year at the Truckee River Watershed Council have been put on hold.
Kaitlin Backlund, executive director of the Mountain Area Preservation Foundation, wrote in an e-mail the group would schedule a steering committee meeting in January to plan the next steps for the park.
“They’re still processing agreements so I’m hopeful that when the budget is resolved the grants will be processed,” said Alex Terrazas, assistant to the town manager.
Town council has set aside $50,000 in funds for the park, Terrazas said, but the money is meant to match grants, so the town will likely wait to see what happens at the state level.
Lisa Wallace, executive director of the watershed council, said while the group doesn’t have to worry about letting people go like the South Yuba Citizen’s League on the west slope, five projects have been put on hold.
“As we understand it our projects haven’t been canceled, they’ve just been suspended for a period of time, we just don’t know how long,” Wallace said.
The effected projects include watershed and stream restoration work in Perazzo Meadows, Coldstream Canyon and Merrill-Davies Creek, along with a residential erosion control retrofit program and a monitoring project for the Truckee river, Wallace said.
“The suspension the way it is described does stay in place it is very serious for us,” Wallace said. “We would not go away, but five major projects is a big impact.”
The biggest challenge, Wallace said, has been getting good information from the state.
Under the wire
One piece of good news for local conservation groups came for the Truckee Donner Land Trust.
Closing on Perazzo Meadows Tuesday, Perry Norris, executive director of the land trust, said they got lucky on $4 million conservation deal that took two years two broker.
“If we were set to close one week later the deal would have been kaput,” Norris said. “We are as lucky as we can be.”
Perazzo Meadows includes 990 acres north of Truckee and the headwaters of the Little Truckee River ” a rare sub-alpine meadow.