Letter to the Editor- Why change creek plans? | TahoeDailyTribune.com

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.

Barbara Doherty

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