If you have ever visited Lake Tahoe, you have probably seen the bumper stickers “Keep Tahoe Blue.” Community members feel very strongly about preserving this national treasure. But over the years, the area has faced increased pressures from logging, gravel mining, and development pressures to make Tahoe a top tourist destination. Unfortunately, giving into these pressures has led to a degradation of the local environment and clarity of the famous lake tourists flock to see.
Across the Tahoe basin, communities are doing their part to clean up their act, and work towards the continual restoration and future sustainability of Lake Tahoe. Here in South Lake Tahoe, one of the greatest contributors of sediment flowing into Lake Tahoe is the eroding Upper Truckee River. Over the years the meadow floodplain habitat that supports an integral section of the river has been degraded due to developmental interests, such as the Lake Tahoe Golf Course. In efforts to fix this section of the river, a restoration project has been proposed to relocate several golf holes away from the river, and restore the natural meandering pattern of the river.
However, relocating these golf holes away from the river is perhaps the most controversial subject surrounding the restoration project. Under the current proposal, seven entire golf holes and 2 partial holes would need to be moved. The State Parks argue that the removal of these holes will both help to restore the natural flow and geomorphic structure of the river, and increase the floodplain area. This will not only help to improve the riparian habitat and create a stronger corridor, but also reduce the sediment and nutrient loads that reach Lake Tahoe. Despite these proposed environmental benefits, community members fear that the project goals are more concerned with expanding the golf course instead of restoring the river. Many even feel that the golf course should simply be removed in its entirety.
Reaching a community consensus about any problem, including solving environmental issues has never been easy. Please share a story of how your community worked together and overcame a difficult problem in your area.
Resources: Photos by Alex Riemondy. Data linked to sources.