Guest column: Washoe Meadows plan a win across the board (opinion)
As someone who’s been teaching biology and environmental science at Lake Tahoe Community College for 20 years, here are the facts on the proposed Project Alternative 2B, for the Upper Truckee River section running through Lake Tahoe Golf Course (LTGC).
LTGC and the adjacent Washoe Meadows State Park (WMSP) are both managed by California State Parks, acquired as part of a legal settlement in the 1980s. LTGC was already there, so it was designated a state recreation area, while the area between LTGC and the surrounding neighborhood was designated WMSP.
In 2001, I partnered with state parks and LTGC for my UNR biology master’s thesis project area. We implemented projects showing improvements in water quality, water conservation, wildlife/habitat management, chemical reduction, and outreach/education.
As a result, LTGC became certified as an Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary in 2002. They’ve also been awarded two Environmental Leaders in Golf awards and a Tahoe Chamber Green Business Award.
I believe Alternative 2B is a true compromise and epitomizes what informed environmental projects should be about: working toward what is best for the environment, while engaging and listening to the views of as many people as possible, and coming up with a compromise. But Alternative 2B isn’t just a compromise; I think it’s a win from many viewpoints.
It is a win for:
Washoe Meadows State Park, which will trade a smaller piece of disturbed, common upland for a larger piece of restored and rare river habitat. WMSP will have a designated trailhead and public access, currently lacking as it is surrounded on three sides by private homes and the fourth by LTGC.
Wildlife, with the creation of a healthier, continuous river and meadow habitat corridor.
Water clarity, with a slower, winding, better-functioning river that deposits clarity-reducing sediments and nutrients onto the adjacent floodplain, instead of into Lake Tahoe.
Lake Tahoe, our national treasure, as Alternative 2B is part of a larger, multi-agency river restoration effort.
High-quality outdoor recreation, part of a State Recreation Area’s mission, keeping an affordable 18-hole course, adding new riverside hiking and biking trails, an ADA-accessible trail, a new pedestrian bridge, and better river accessibility to fishermen and kayakers.
Golfers, with new restroom facilities and a more interesting “link-style” course layout that increases wildlife corridors, preserves large trees, and thins an overgrown section of upland.
Water conservation, with a 30 percent reduction in course water consumption from a 15 percent reduction in the course turf footprint and a new, more modern irrigation system.
The community of South Lake Tahoe, sustaining over 100 local jobs and tourism revenue. A financial study showed a shortened course would eventually close.
Our local high school, whose golf teams use LTGC as their home course.
California State Parks and the public, as revenues from the golf course support WMSP and other state parks, namely Emerald Bay and D.L. Bliss State Parks.
I hope in the spirit of compromise, you will support proposed Alternative 2B and visit restoreuppertruckee.net to comment by July 30.
Kathy Strain resides in Zephyr Cove.