Marsh access important to neighbors |

Marsh access important to neighbors

South Shore residents who live around the Truckee Marsh want to keep access to a meadow within it.

At least that’s the input California Tahoe Conservancy officials received at a workshop Wednesday to discuss management of the 311-acre wetland.

“We’re very pleasantly surprised by the community turnout. We really feel it’s important to hear from folks in the community,” said Brian Wilkinson, Conservancy program coordinator of watershed and stream restoration. “I think we definitely have to work with the community early on.”

Nearly 50 people attended the workshop. Wilkinson said their input will help determine how much people and pets will be able to access the environmentally sensitive marsh and its adjoining beach along Lake Tahoe.

Nearly 75 percent of the wetland is deemed a stream environment zone, an area that consists of a stream and its drainage, as well as marshes and meadows. These zones have been targeted for restoration because they filter sediments and nutrients from going into the lake.

Whether they sought the banishment of dogs and smoking in the marsh or wanted an exercise and vista point for people and their canine friends, residents were adamant about being involved in the process.

“We all know Mother Nature does come first, but human beings should come somewhere close to that,” said Maureen Fernandez, who’s lived at South Shore since 1976. “We’d like to be able to enjoy this property.”

Fernandez said she’s been a steward of the land, picking up trash and barbed wire, like many other residents who live around the area.

A Tahoe native, Tyler Cannon also voiced his stake in the wetland. He said residents are more familiar with the recreation and ecology of the area than most Conservancy officials.

“I feel there has to be a balance between preservation and use,” Cannon said. “We all want to see certain plants and animals thrive, but by limiting public access I think you’ll see more vandalism than conservation.”

A large meadow in the marsh serves as a prime walking habitat for people in the summer and a cross country skiing venue in the winter.

The land was previously owned by the Barton family, who allowed cattle to graze on the land for nearly 70 years.

Cannon said ranchers only managed the land two months out of the year, so the public used it the rest of the time.

With sensitive and endangered species calling the marsh home, including the largest population of the native Tahoe yellow cress plant, Wilkinson said the Conservancy has to ensure the land’s ecological protection first.

He said workshops will continue throughout the year to help develop a management plan.

The Conservancy purchased the wetland in December for $10 million. Wilkinson said the uniqueness of the property and its importance to water quality and clarity made it an attractive acquisition.

The marsh filters sediments from Trout Creek and the Upper Truckee River, which contribute about one-third of the basin’s runoff into the lake.

Only a fraction of the Upper Truckee Marsh remains. Before the South Shore was developed, it spanned the area from Al Tahoe Boulevard to Pope Marsh near Camp Richardson.

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