Letter to the Editor- Why change creek plans?
To the editor:
As one of the nearby residents concerned about the changes
in the Trout Creek Project, I am extremely disheartened by
the votes cast by Mayor Hal Cole and Council Members Brooke
Laine, Tom Davis, and Judy Brown. Theirs was not a vote
for the protection of Lake Tahoe by reducing the silt that
flows into the lake; that issue was already decided and
agreed upon three years ago. The nearby residents
supported that issue.
My current concern is that the mayor and those council
members voted to allow changes in those original plans with
fifteen stagnant ponds, creating “breeding habitat for
mosquitoes,” as explicitly described in a report for Haen
Engineering by River Run Fisheries and Restoration. This
will pose a public health issue ( just wait until the West
Nile Virus arrives) and seems to seriously violate the
California Environmental Quality Act. The heinous aspect
of this vote is the initial secrecy in creating the pits
coupled with the expediency of implementing them. The idea
seems to be that once these mudholes with no inlet and no
outlet are in the meadow, then it is a fait accompli.
The time is long past to accuse anyone of willfully
polluting the lake. Virtually everyone fully understands
the goals of stream restoration in the basin. It is the
ill-thought plan of adding mosquito hatcheries to the
project that leads to my concern. The biologist
responsible for adding these sink holes was trying to
emulate the habitat of an oxbow lake created when a
meandering river changes course and leaves an isolated
water hole which teems with wildlife. What the biologist
missed in his design was the question of scale. An oxbow
lake may range from hundreds of yards to miles long. At
this scale it is capable of supporting a diverse biota that
can control pests like mosquitoes. In the Trout Creek
rendition, the mudholes proposed are too small and too
oxygen depleted to support the fish populations which would
be a natural control of vectors such as mosquitoes.
The City of South Lake Tahoe must re-address the creation
of mosquito breeding habitats. If they are determined to
create additional wetland habitat, all they need do is to
fill in the center of the old creek bed leaving each end
connected to the newly flowing watercourse. In this way,
the two ends (now ponds) of the old creek would be
filled with the necessary fish to control mosquitoes. If it
is simply a matter of available funds that drove the City
Council’s decision, they should note that not digging
mudholes and leaving the abandoned creek beds open to the
newly flowing watercourse would even save money.
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