September 2023 Conservancy Newsletter

Upper Truckee River

September 2023 Conservancy Newsletter

Fall is here and Tahoe weather forecasts have begun to include chances of snowfall at the tops of mountains in the region. Field work continues at Lake Tahoe but soon the Conservancy and our partners will take steps to wrap up field operations and prepare for winter. This month’s newsletter includes updates from our recent Board meeting, news on Conservancy staff and crews, and more.

Jason Vasques, Executive Director
California Tahoe Conservancy

September Conservancy Board Meeting Highlights

Conservancy board members and staff at Lake Tahoe.

On September 20-21, the Conservancy Board met in Kings Beach. Highlights from the meeting included:

  • A discussion among the Board, Conservancy staff, and leaders from Lake Tahoe Basin partners to help shape the Conservancy’s 2024-2029 Strategic Plan.
  • A training session on how institutions can meaningfully address inequities, with a focus on community engagement in the Basin.
  • A tour of north shore Conservancy properties and regionally significant recreational sites, including North Tahoe Beach, North Tahoe Regional Park, and Patton Landing Beach and Carnelian Creek. The Board, staff, and partners discussed regional priorities for recreation, active transportation, and restoration.

Invasive New Zealand Mudsnails Discovered in Lake Tahoe

New Zealand Mudsnails

Divers monitoring Lake Tahoe have discovered invasive New Zealand mudsnails in areas off the south shore, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and Tahoe Resource Conservation District (Tahoe RCD) announced. This is the first time the species has been detected in Lake Tahoe. Learn more.

Photo by Marine Taxonomic Services, Ltd.

Protecting Tahoe Yellow Cress

Lake Tahoe partner agencies are conducting annual lake-wide monitoring surveys of Tahoe Yellow Cress. Surveys continue all month across land ownerships, on every beach where the rare plant is known to occur. Tahoe Yellow Cress is a small native plant that grows on the sandy shores of Lake Tahoe and along creeks and streams that flow into the lake, and nowhere else in the world. The largest population occurs on Conservancy land along the south shore.

Powerline Resilience Corridor Tour

People touring a forestry project under a power line.

On September 15, Conservancy staff joined Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot, Energy Safety Director Caroline Thomas Jacobs, Deputy Secretary for Forest and Wildfire Resilience Lisa Lien-Mager, the Governor’s Wildlife and Forest Resilience Task Force, National Forest Foundation, and partner agencies for a field visit to see Liberty Utilities powerline resilience corridor projects. Liberty Utilities has been working with the USDA Forest Service and the Conservancy to reduce catastrophic wildfire risk. Powerline resilience corridor partnerships between land managers and utility companies create efficiencies by having crews treat public lands at the same time as they treat utility corridors. Learn more information on the powerline resilience corridors project.

Crews Continue Work on Conservancy Lands

A crew member working on Conservancy land.

The Conservancy’s seasonal field crews, a partnership with Tahoe RCD, continue to work on projects on Conservancy lands to reduce wildfire risk, enhance wildlife habitat, and protect water quality for streams that flow into Lake Tahoe.

2023 Tahoe Science Conference

2023 Tahoe Science Conference

The 2023 Tahoe Science Conference will take place from October 11-13, 2023 at Lake Tahoe Community College in South Lake Tahoe. The conference brings together scientists, public agencies, and the community for a thoughtful, interactive dialogue about science as the foundation for environmental protection policy—past, present, and future. Following brief presentations and conversations, panelists will lead breakout sessions for more intimate engagement. Learn more about the conference, including how to register.

Conservancy Staff Updates



Shawn Butler and Nick Meyer

The Conservancy congratulates Shawn Butler on a stellar career of public service. Shawn retired from the Conservancy in August, having served for many years as the Land Management Program Supervisor. Shawn began his career in Tahoe in 1991 as a Conservancy lot inspector under contract through the City of South Lake Tahoe. He leaves a remarkable legacy, having overseen management of the Conservancy’s approximately 4,700 properties. Under Shawn’s leadership, the Conservancy developed the Tahoe Conservation Partnership with Tahoe RCD, resulting in the field crews that have become crucial for forestry, restoration, and land management on Conservancy and Tahoe RCD properties. His legacy can be seen in the thousands of Conservancy properties that provide wildlife habitat, protect water quality, and add to the character of Tahoe communities. During the September Board meeting, Conservancy Executive Director Jason Vasques noted that Shawn “always approached his work with expertise, understanding, and most importantly, a really good sense of humor. Shawn’s ability to foster collaboration and teamwork is something that we will really miss the most.”

New Role

Erin Ernst

Erin Ernst

Natural Resources Division Director

Erin Ernst has accepted the role of the Conservancy’s Natural Resources Division Director. In this role, she will manage the Conservancy’s Watershed, Landscape Resilience, and Community Forestry programs in addition to working with federal, tribal, state, and local partners. Erin has previously been serving as the Conservancy’s Tahoe-Central Sierra Initiative Coordinator. She has also been leading development of the Conservancy’s next strategic plan. Erin joined the Conservancy staff in 2019 and has served in multiple roles, including a stint as the Acting Landscape Forestry Program Supervisor. Before joining the Conservancy, she led ecological monitoring at the University of California, Davis, working on the USDA Forest Service (USFS) Central Sierra Province, and worked as a forester for the USFS at the Tahoe and Lassen National Forests.

Upcoming California Tahoe Conservancy Board Meetings

The California Tahoe Conservancy Board will meet on December 14, 2023. An agenda will be available on the Conservancy website ten days prior to the meeting.

Lake Tahoe in the News

Lake Tahoe fall prescribed fire program may begin next week, Tahoe Daily Tribune, September 20, 2023

Tahoe Fund CEO honored at the 2023 National Association of State Parks Directors Conference in Lake Tahoe, Tahoe Daily Tribune, September 25, 2023



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.