July 2020 Conservancy Newsletter
Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, host of the 2020 Lake Tahoe Summit, has set resilience as this year’s summit theme. Despite so many changes related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Conservancy staff continues to improve the resilience of Lake Tahoe through forest health and watershed restoration projects, and the careful stewardship of the Conservancy’s public lands.
Our staff is also supporting the State’s response to the COVID-19 crisis: two Conservancy employees are now serving as contract-tracers as part of the State of California’s strategy to flatten the curve. We are proud of the work they are doing to support the public during this challenging time.
Like all of you, our staff has weathered great changes this year, and remains resilient in the face of the pandemic. And while we continue to advance the Conservancy’s mission through key projects and programs, some of which are highlighted below, we are continually seeking ways to further support Conservancy staff navigate balancing their work with caretaking responsibilities and keeping themselves and their families safe and healthy.
Jane Freeman, Acting Executive Director
California Tahoe Conservancy
Tahoe Pines Restoration Update
The Conservancy is restoring the 8.1-acre site of the former Tahoe Pines Campground, creating new wetlands and restoring habitat along the Upper Truckee River, Lake Tahoe’s largest tributary. We are also constructing new accessible-to-all trails and other public access features at the site. Watch our new video to get the highlights and visit tahoe.ca.gov/tahoe-pines to learn more.
Upper Truckee Marsh Restoration – Project Update
Work continues full speed on the Upper Truckee Marsh Restoration Project, the largest wetland restoration in the Lake Tahoe Basin’s history. Developers created the Tahoe Keys neighborhood in the 1950s and 60s, destroying much of the marsh. This month, the Conservancy is preparing to separate an artificial lagoon from the adjacent Tahoe Keys marina, the first key step in creating new wetlands in an area disturbed by the historical Keys development. Access to Lake Tahoe will remain open this year but the Conservancy will close some parts of the marsh to protect public safety during construction. Visitors can check out tahoe.ca.gov/upper-truckee-marsh to get real-time project updates and find out how the restoration construction may affect your trip to the marsh .
Improving Forest Health and Reducing Wildfire Risk at Van Sickle Bi-State Park
The Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District’s Zephyr Fire Crew, under contract to the Conservancy, is wrapping up its forest health hand-thinning work at Van Sickle Bi-State Park. The Conservancy co-manages the busy park with Nevada State Parks.
The Conservancy designed this project to improve the park’s forest health and reduce wildfire threat. People cause 95 percent of wildfires in the Lake Tahoe Basin. Firefighters have responded to dozens of wildfire ignitions at the heavily used park in the past decade. In 2003, a dropped cigarette butt ignited the 600-acre Gondola Fire.
Like the park itself, this bi-state collaboration has benefits that cross the state line. The Tahoe Douglas Fire Protection District became interested in this work on California public land in part to protect Nevada neighborhoods upwind of the park. The Zephyr Fire Crew is hand-thinning 108 acres of the park’s forests. Later this year and next, the crew will burn the thinned wood in piles. Once complete, their work will result in forest conditions that make it easier to fight fires that originate in the park and to protect the park from fires that start in the surrounding forest.
State Selects Development Team for South Shore Housing
Under a 2019 Executive Order by Governor Gavin Newsom, the State of California has selected Related California and St. Joseph Community Land Trust to build affordable homes on developable Conservancy properties in South Lake Tahoe. Learn more.
Protecting Peregrine Falcons at Eagle Rock
Eagle Rock’s iconic views make it one of the Conservancy’s most-visited properties. It is also home to nesting peregrine falcons. The Conservancy has posted signs asking visitors to avoid rock climbing or recreational drone use in the area. Either activity could disturb the falcons. Our staff is monitoring the nests and will remove the signs when the nesting season has ended. Thanks for helping to protect these amazing birds.
South Tahoe Greenway Construction Moves Ahead
El Dorado County’s contractor has installed the new Trout Creek bridge for the South Tahoe Greenway and the newest section of the shared-use trail. The Conservancy is proud to be supporting this important trail, which links up South Lake Tahoe neighborhoods, connects to Lake Tahoe Community College, and provides the backbone for non-motorized travel on the south shore.
Visit TakeCareTahoe.org for tips on flattening the curve at Lake Tahoe.
The California State Library has launched the California Grants Portal, a single website to find all state grant and loan opportunities offered on a first-come or competitive basis. Visit the grants.ca.gov now!
Conservancy Staff Updates
Sarah Rachael Jaffe
Rachael Jaffe joined the Conservancy in June as a legal extern. She is working on internal Conservancy program guidelines and researching California Environmental Quality Act matters related to Conservancy properties. Rachael just completed her second year at the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law. Before attending law school, she worked as an ecologist, environmental educator, and adventure trip guide. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Conservation Biology from St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York and her master’s degree in ecology from Colorado State University.
Erica Uhor joined the Conservancy in June as an Environmental Planner with the Land Management program and will be primarily designing and implementing restoration projects on the Conservancy’s urban lots. Since 2014, she had worked as a firefighter with CAL FIRE’s Mendocino Unit and served a season with the USDA Forest Service in the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit before that. Erica also has experience with the Tahoe Resource Conservation District’s forestry crew and restoration experience with that National Park Service and the Center for Environmental Management on Military Lands. She studied Physical Geography and Environmental Studies at California State University, Chico.
Forest Management Planning Specialist
Jason Pollard joined the Conservancy in June as the agency’s Forest Management Planning Specialist. He manages Community Forestry projects under the Conservancy’s Good Neighbor Authority agreement with the USDA Forest Service and provides support to the Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team. Prior to joining the Conservancy, Jason served as Timber Sale Administrator and acting Timber Management Officer for the LTBMU, where he managed contracts for thousands of acres of forest health and fuel reduction treatments, and was the Interdisciplinary Team lead for the 3,700-acre South Tahoe Fuels Treatment Project. He graduated from Humboldt State University.
Upcoming California Tahoe Conservancy Board Meetings
The California Tahoe Conservancy Board will meet on September 17, 2020. This meeting will be held online as part of the continuing effort to flatten the COVID-19 curve and to protect the health of Board members, staff, and the public. When more details become available, they will be posted to the Conservancy website. An agenda will be available on the Conservancy website ten days prior to the meeting.
Lake Tahoe in the News
California Tahoe Conservancy grants $650,000 to relocate, rebuild at Kings Beach – Sierra Sun, July 3, 2020
Tahoe Fund – A Decade of Devotion – Tahoe Quarterly, Summer 2020
Tahoe Conservancy names Freeman as acting Executive Director – Tahoe Daily Tribune, July 17, 2020
How A Marsh Restoration Could Help Preserve Lake Tahoe’s Famed Blue Hue – Capital Public Radio, July 17, 2020
Volunteers spend Tahoe Forest Stewardship day restoring Johnson Meadows – South Tahoe Now, July 28, 2020
Tahoe’s State of the Lake Report Released – UC Davis – Tahoe Environmental Research Center, July 30, 2020