Yellow cress finds places to grow despite high lake: Beachgoers urged to be extra cautious | TahoeDailyTribune.com
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Yellow cress finds places to grow despite high lake: Beachgoers urged to be extra cautious

Amanda Fehd
Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Tahoe yellow cress grows just above the area on a beach where waves are constantly active.
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A unique and endangered yellow mustard plant has found places to grow despite high lake levels this year.

Tahoe Yellow Cress grows only on beaches in Tahoe, which have shrunk this year because Lake Tahoe’s water level is higher than it’s been in five years, at 6,229 feet above sea level.

“With the high lake elevation, the yellow cress has moved into very discreet locations along the beaches that are not flooded,” said Rick Robinson, who manages watershed restoration for the California Tahoe Conservancy.



“The real concern is that the plant is sharing the same sandy beach as the public, and with there being so little beach available for both, it makes the plant more subject to being trampled,” he said.

The plant is considered endangered in California and is a candidate for listing on Nevada’s endangered species list.



The lake reached it’s highest level at 6229 feet in mid-June. Because of legal agreements among several parties, Lake Tahoe’s water level must not go over 6229 feet. A federal water master regulates the lake level through a dam at Tahoe City.

It’s been five year since Lake Tahoe water levels have been as high. Two heavy winters in a row have brought the region out of drought. Meadows are flourishing with wildflowers, but yellow cress beach habitat is smaller.

The groundcover plant blooms this time of year with small yellow flowers. It grows just above the area on a beach where waves are constantly active, called the wave-wash zone. High groundwater in these areas provide a supply of moisture, despite dry air conditions.

“It keeps a constant relationship with the ground water provided by the lake,” Robinson said.


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