Restore the Upper Truckee River

Improving Lake Tahoe's Clarity & Environment. Increasing Recreational Access & Connectivity. Strengthening Our Local Economy.

Project Location

The Project is located in Lake Valley State Recreation Area (including the Lake Tahoe Golf Course) and the south-eastern portion of Washoe Meadows State Park, along the Upper Truckee River.

Project Highlights

  • Protects Lake Tahoe’s clarity by reducing sediment input by restoring a 1.5 mile section of the Upper Truckee River
  • Increases recreation access to the Upper Truckee River and Washoe Meadows State Park by adding a new accessible trail along the river and a new recreation bridge over the river
  • Retains and improves the 18-hole championship, Audubon recognized golf course for economic vitality of the region
  • Generates substantial revenues and jobs to the local economy
  • Relocates five holes to less sensitive land out of the floodplain
  • Protects the fen area and reduces impacts to the stream environment
  • Works in conjunction with several projects in a multi-reach restoration effort on the Upper Truckee River to improve the environment

View Project Alternatives

Welcome to the Project update and thank you for your interest. Public Comment is Now Open.

The proposed Project will greatly enhance recreational opportunities and trail connectivity while improving the natural environment. It will deliver strong economic benefits to South Lake Tahoe by continuing the operation of the 18-hole championship, Audubon award-winning golf course. The Project will accomplish this by relocating five golf course holes (a decrease from nine holes in the previous plan) from the active floodplain where the straightened and incised river is actively eroding, to a less sensitive area of previously disturbed lands, which are away from the river. The active floodplain will be restored as well as a 1.5 mile reach of the river with its associated habitat, bringing it all to a geomorphically stable system.

Preferred Alternative 2B and Additional Environmental Analysis Document DPAAEA released for Public Comment

The Notice Of Availability (NOA) (download PDF) has information on how to submit questions and comments.

In response to a lawsuit brought by a citizen’s group, on an DEIR/EIS document (environmental studies and analysis) circulated in 2012 by California State Parks (CSP), CSP has prepared a supplemental document, the draft Preferred Alternative and Additional Environmental Analysis (DPAAEA), to define the proposed Project for the Upper Truckee Restoration and Golf Course Reconfiguration Project. This DPAAEA, in conjunction with the earlier volume of the DEIR and FEIR, constitutes the entire analysis.

In a joint coordinated effort with several other agencies to clean up sediment in the Upper Truckee River and improve Lake Tahoe clarity, CSP has prepared an EIR/EIS to restore the Upper Truckee River that passes through a state recreation area. When opponents from the adjacent neighborhood brought a lawsuit against CSP, an appellate judge sided with the opponents in finding that the Project description was confusing, although the Project description was included in the environmental documents that had been circulated. A supplemental document has been prepared to clarify the Project description and resolve several other minor issues. This DPAAEA is now available for review here—download pdf— or electronically to download at State Parks’ web page: http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=981 (click on “El Dorado County”).

Public Comment is Open

Please provide your comments on either or both, Alternative 2B and EIS here.  Comments are due by July 30, 2018.

For more information on this project email: utproject@parks.ca.gov

Proposed Project Description

The Upper Truckee River Restoration and Golf Course Reconfiguration Project will restore the natural geomorphic and ecological processes to this section of the river. The proposed Project (Alternative 2B) will relocate five golf course holes away from the rivers’ edge and out of the floodplain to less sensitive land west of the river, and remove five under-sized bridges. The river will be restored to a meandering pattern, reducing erosion and sediment to Lake Tahoe and restoring connectivity to its floodplain, improving riparian vegetation and wildlife corridors. Areas where golf is removed from the floodplain would be restored to meadow habitat. The proposed Project will increase recreation access to the Upper Truckee River and to Washoe Meadows State Park, as well as improving regional trail connectivity. Importantly, it will ensure that South Lake Tahoe keeps an 18-hole championship golf course. The course will be re-vamped, with five new holes constructed on rolling terrain with updated irrigation.

This Project is part of a broader collaborative effort to restore multiple reaches of the Upper Truckee River and improve Lake Tahoe water clarity.  It will improve recreational opportunities, trail connectivity, community economic vitality and the environment.

The Problem

Over the past century, the Upper Truckee River has been impacted by logging, gravel mining, grazing channel straightening, and the subsequent development of the golf course directly on the floodplain. These disturbances have led to erosion, increases of sediment and nutrient loads to Lake Tahoe, and decreased riparian habitat. Due to these types of disturbances, Lake Tahoe has lost 30 feet of clarity since the 1960’s. For more information, visit History & Background.

Compare Alternatives

For proposed Project, see the map showing the preferred Alternative 2B, which would reconfigure the golf course to allow for river restoration, enhanced recreation access and economic vitality. Five holes would be relocated to keep the 18-hole golf course.  Compare this map with Alternative 1, on the right-side, which shows existing conditions or no action.

click images to enlarge

Current Condition of the River

Eroding bed and banks, disconnected from its floodplain and lacks habitat.
eroded upper truckee river banks

Desired Condition of the River

Connected to its floodplain with healthy riparian vegetation.healthy upper truckee river restoration

Detailed Maps of Preferred Alternative 2B Restoration

The Benefits of Restoring the Upper Truckee River

Restores the Natural Environment

  • Restores a 1.5 mile section of the Upper Truckee River to directly reduce clarity-reducing sediment flowing into Lake Tahoe and stop erosion due to artificial straightening.
  • Restores more than 31 acres of meadow floodplain and the stream environment zone.
  • Improves riparian habitat and provides more continuous riverine corridor.
  • Reconnects the river to its floodplain, restoring water table and vegetation.
  • Moves five golf course holes (a decrease from nine holes in the previous plan) further away from the river, creating a buffer to help protect the natural environment.
  • Reduces golf course within 50 feet of the river from over 6,300 feet to less than 1500 feet.
  • Reduces turf by over 10%.
  • Removes five erosion-causing undersized bridges and replaces with two longer bridges.
  • Continues the protection of the fen, wetlands and the Celio barn, which are all outside the Project area.

Improves Recreational Opportunities

  • Improves access for more people to be able to enjoy the Park.
  • Opens up a mile of river access to recreation access for fishing, swimming and bird watching (currently closed to recreation because it’s in the middle of golf play).
  • Creates new recreation access near the clubhouse, including trailhead and picnic tables.
  • Constructs a new ADA accessible trail paralleling the south-east side of river, connecting from Highway 50 to a new bridge. This will connect to trails on the west side of the river and provide greater regional connectivity to increase visitor access to Washoe Meadows State Park (which currently does not have any developed access or parking).
  • Delivers a new bridge to serve mixed recreation (the new ADA trail that connects Sawmill Bike Trail to trails in Washoe Meadows State Park).
  • Improves and keeps the 18-hole regulation golf course delivering significant economic benefits to the community with an updated layout and irrigation (it is anticipated that parts, if not all, of the Golf Course will remain open during the various phases of construction).
  • Gives potential for the Clubhouse to become more of a visitor center—a gateway to the Tahoe Basin- and provide more interpretation.
  • Provides affordable golf recreation to the local community and visitors.

Strengthens the Local Economy

  • Ensures a sustainable key revenue generator for the South Lake Tahoe community and California State Parks: the 18-hole regulation golf course is a substantial producer of strong economic benefits.
  • Keeps tourism dollars related to the golf course in South Lake Tahoe.
  • Generates employment in South Lake Tahoe via both Lake Tahoe Golf Course and golf related tourism jobs.
  • Generates revenue to keep other CA State Parks open on an annual basis.
  • Boosts the local economy directly and incrementally: approximately 2/3 of golf rounds are played by visitors from out of town. These visitors also spend money on lodging, meals, and additional related tourism that supports the local economy.