With a variety of recreation options being considered, how people use the Upper Truckee Marsh is likely to change under the largest restoration project ever proposed at Lake Tahoe.
Improving water quality, wildlife habitat and recreation are among the goals for the nearly 600-acre Upper Truckee River and Marsh Restoration Project.
Each of the five alternatives for the project, located just east of the Tahoe Keys, include the addition of some recreational opportunities.
Most of the additions would take place on the west side of the marsh, with the east side focused on protecting resources, Scott Carroll, project manager of the restoration for the California Tahoe Conservancy, told the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s Governing Board on Wednesday.
Under the option that provides the most public access, Alternative 1, bridges would be built over Trout Creek and the Upper Truckee River and would connect new and existing bike paths. The alternative would also include parking, two kiosks, observation areas and boardwalks, according to the proposal’s environmental document.
On the other end of the spectrum, Alternative 2 would provide a minimum level of public access and recreation. Signs, a modified pedestrian trail to Cove East Beach, five viewpoints, a boat takeout and a fishing platform would be constructed under the option.
“Except for four viewpoints along the eastern perimeter of the study area, adjacent to the Al Tahoe neighborhood and the boat take-out near U.S. 50, this infrastructure is located from Venice Drive to Cove East Beach,” according to the environmental document.
Alternatives 3 and 4 would provide moderate levels of public access and recreation, and would include different combinations of pedestrian trails, bike paths, kiosks and viewpoints. The fifth alternative is a required “no project” option, and only minor additions such as signs would be added if the alternative is selected.
The financial cost and environmental benefits of each option vary, Carroll said. Detailed cost estimates have not yet been completed, according to the project manager.
A cost-benefit analysis of the restoration is expected to follow completion of the environmental analysis, Carroll said.
The marsh restoration has been in the works for more than a decade. The earliest the project would begin construction is 2015, although it’s likely the restoration would begin later, Carroll said.
“We’re going to have to get busy to find a good chunk of money for sure,” Carroll said.
Comments on the restoration proposals are due April 8. More information, including how to comment, can be found at http://tahoe.ca.gov.
The marsh project is one of six restoration projects, in various degrees of completion, along the Upper Truckee River. Previous clear-cutting, grazing and urbanization have damaged the land surrounding the Upper Truckee, said Adam Lewandowski, a senior planner at the TRPA, on Wednesday.
Straightening of the river has also disconnected it from its natural floodplain, which served as a filter for the fine sediment and nutrients that have been linked to Lake Tahoe’s clarity decline. Today, the pollutants go straight to the lake, Lewandowski said.