April 2024 Conservancy Newsletter

Upper Truckee River

April 2024 Conservancy Newsletter

Published: Apr 26, 2024

On the heels of the 54th Earth Day, we join with our partners in celebrating what we have achieved together and committing to continue our focus on protecting the environment at Lake Tahoe. This includes advancing the state and federal commitment to conserving 30 percent of our lands by 2030, which was among the factors in the Conservancy’s recent historic acquisition of the Motel 6 / Knox Johnson property in South Lake Tahoe.

The Conservancy has received many calls about the return of Sandhill cranes to Tahoe, given that news reports have shared that a pair nested on Conservancy land in South Lake Tahoe. See below for the story of their remarkable return.

Lastly, this spring brings exciting developments as we prepare to release our draft 2024-2029 Strategic Plan. Read on for details on how you can provide input once our plan is out.

Jason Vasques, Executive Director
California Tahoe Conservancy

Coming Soon: Community Events on Our Draft Strategic Plan

Emerald Bay

The Conservancy invites you to join one of our three public events in May, during which we will seek public comments and feedback on our draft 2024–2029 Strategic Plan. We expect to release the draft on Monday, April 29. Over the past year, the Conservancy has developed this draft plan based on input from our Board, partners, and the public. Your input will help strengthen the plan.


Wednesday, May 8
5:00–6:00 pm
Online Session via Zoom Webinar Platform, with option to connect by phone. Register here.
Language: English

Tuesday, May 14
6:00–7:00 pm
Lake Tahoe Community College
Rooms U112/113 in the Lisa Maloff Center
1 College Dr, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
Language: English

Wednesday, May 15
5:30–6:30 pm
South Lake Tahoe Family Resource Center
3501 Spruce Ave # B, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96150
Language: Spanish only

You will also be able to provide your comments by email. Watch for our announcement on April 29.

Van Sickle Bi-State Park and Tahoe Pines Reopen on May 1

People enjoying a hiking trail at Van Sickle Bi-State Park, with Lake Tahoe in the background.

Gates and facilities at Van Sickle Bi-State Park will open for the season on May 1. Park roads, parking lots, restrooms, and drinking fountains will all become available for visitors, and trash collection will resume.

The Conservancy co-manages the 725-acre Van Sickle Bi-State Park with Nevada State Parks. The park offers hiking trails, picnic areas, and the historic Van Sickle ranch barn and cabins.

In addition, starting on May 1, the Conservancy will open the parking lot at its Tahoe Pines property in Meyers. Tahoe Pines features a fully accessible trail from the parking area to the Upper Truckee River, as well as picnic tables and bicycle parking.

Learn more about Van Sickle Bi-State Park.

Annual Upper Truckee Marsh Dog Closure Resumes May 1

The Conservancy will temporarily close the Upper Truckee Marsh to dogs starting May 1. This annual seasonal closure protects birds and other wildlife during the breeding season. People must keep dogs away from the sensitive marsh habitat through July 31. Beginning August 1, people may resume bringing leashed dogs within the closed areas of the Marsh.

Conservancy land north of Venice Drive, along the west bank of the Upper Truckee River, remains open for year-round access to leashed dogs. A fully accessible trail leads from the end of Venice Drive to Lake Tahoe.

Conservancy staff and California Highway Patrol officers monitor these areas for compliance.

The Conservancy manages about 560 acres at the Upper Truckee Marsh, one of the largest remaining marshes in the Sierra Nevada, to protect and enhance wildlife habitat and water quality.

Seasonal dog closure area at the Upper Truckee Marsh

The Remarkable Return of Sandhill Cranes

A pair of Sandhill cranes standing in the Upper Truckee Marsh, with red-winged blackbirds flying overhead.

Article originally published by the Tahoe Institute for Natural Science in the Tahoe Daily Tribune, March 28, 2024. Photo of Sandhill cranes at the Conservancy’s Upper Truckee Marsh property courtesy of Brent Coe.

As spring returns to Lake Tahoe, a story of resilience and resurgence is also unfolding. It’s the migration of the Sandhill Cranes – magnificent birds that once upon a time had all but vanished from the Tahoe region. 

“March is a big month for Sandhill Crane migration over and through the Tahoe Region, as thousands of nocturnally migrating cranes will pass overhead,” says TINS co-founder and executive director Will Richardson, “but more and more, these cranes are stopping to spend the summer here.”

Formerly a popular game bird, only an estimated 3-4 pairs were believed to nest in the entire state of California in 1944. In 1970, lawmakers in the state took decisive action granting Sandhill Cranes “fully protected” status. Six years later, nests were documented in the Sierra Valley, but it was still many decades before they started to reach the Tahoe region. In 2015, a milestone was reached when a breeding pair with a colt was discovered at Teichert Ponds in Truckee. In 2018, a pair began nesting at Grass Lake near Luther Pass, the first documented breeders in the Lake Tahoe basin.

Visit the Tahoe Daily Tribune to continue reading.

Nominations Open for Best in Basin Awards

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency is seeking nominations for projects that display outstanding environmental design to be entered in the 31st running of the Best in Basin awards. Projects must have been completed in 2022 or 2023.

Nominations are due by May 17 at 5:00 p.m. Use this nomination form to submit an outstanding project today. For more information and to view past winners, visit the Best in Basin Awards page.

Upcoming California Tahoe Conservancy Board Meetings

The Board will meet on June 20, 2024. The agenda will be available on the Conservancy website ten days prior to the meeting.

Lake Tahoe in the News

How bulldozing a closed Motel 6 could help improve Lake Tahoe’s water clarity – The Nevada Independent, April 11, 2024

After 100 Years, Lake Tahoe Is Seeing An Old Friend: The Sandhill Crane – LAist, April 13, 2024

How will demolishing an old motel help preserve Lake Tahoe’s clarity? – KNPR – Nevada Public Radio, April 15, 2024

Acquisition of motel property a key victory for Tahoe’s quality, clarity – Opinion Piece by the League to Save Lake Tahoe and Tahoe Fund, April 17, 2024


Show Your Love for Tahoe While Protecting It

When you order a California Lake Tahoe license plate, you help build biking and hiking trails, restore fish and wildlife habitat, and protect Lake Tahoe’s famous beaches and blue waters. 96 percent of all funds from Tahoe plate sales come back to Lake Tahoe. 

My Tahoe Plate
My Tahoe Plate

Show Your Love for Tahoe While Protecting It

When you order a California Lake Tahoe license plate, you help build biking and hiking trails, restore fish and wildlife habitat, and protect Lake Tahoe’s famous beaches and blue waters. 96 percent of all funds from Tahoe plate sales come back to Lake Tahoe.