Opinion Pieces

Acquisition of motel property a key victory for Tahoe’s quality, clarity

Reno Gazette Journal | Steve Spurlock & Dr. Darcie Goodman Collins, League to Save Lake Tahoe; Cory Ritchie & Amy Berry, Tahoe Fund
April 17, 2024

Efforts to improve Lake Tahoe’s clarity got a major boost last month with the California Tahoe Conservancy’s acquisition of the Motel 6 property and surrounding 31 acres within the Upper Truckee River watershed in South Lake Tahoe. Whether you live in Nevada or California, if you love Lake Tahoe, this is something to celebrate.

Following the development boom of the 1950s and ’60s, Lake Tahoe lost nearly 30 feet of water clarity and saw damage to the marshes, meadows and wetlands that serve as its natural water filters. This property acquisition will put the Upper Truckee River watershed on a course to revitalization, improving lake clarity and the habitat for local wildlife.

The first step will be to secure the property and prepare for removal of the motel. Over the next few years, planning work will commence on the restoration of the lands.

“This environmental acquisition may be the most important in a generation to protect Lake Tahoe. By reconnecting the most important wetland that filters water flowing into the Lake, this investment protects the Lake’s precious water quality and also provides an important corridor for local wildlife,” noted California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot.

It has long been a goal of the Tahoe Fund, League to Save Lake Tahoe and many agencies in the Basin to see this development removed from these sensitive lands and the wetlands restored.

As this acquisition came together, our two organizations worked in tandem to support the Conservancy’s offer. Funding was also provided by the Conservancy itself, the California Wildlife Conservation Board, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Aiding this acquisition continues a long-running trend of support by the League and the Tahoe Fund, contributing in distinct and complementary ways to a common goal.

For decades, the League has taken part in collaborative efforts to restore and improve the Upper Truckee Marsh and river habitat using citizen science, public education and hands-on volunteer projects. Their team also has consistently advocated to decision makers in Sacramento to ensure this acquisition remained a priority.

The restoration of the Upper Truckee River has long been a major strategic initiative of the Tahoe Fund. In 2019, they played an instrumental role in the public acquisition of the 206-acre Johnson Meadow property immediately to the south of the Motel 6 in the heart of the Upper Truckee River Watershed, another major milestone in the restoration of the river.

Together, our two organizations will continue to work alongside the Conservancy and partners to return these sensitive lands back to a healthy functioning wetland, improve the Lake’s water quality and clarity, and balance public access with the needs of our environment.

Cory Ritchie is board chair of the Tahoe Fund. Amy Berry is CEO of the Tahoe Fund. Steve Spurlock is the board chair of the League to Save Lake Tahoe. Dr. Darcie Goodman Collins is CEO of the League to Save Lake Tahoe.

Read the op-ed on the Reno Gazette Journal website.

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