Restore the Upper Truckee River

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

Please Join the Effort!

Current Condition of the River

Eroding bed & banks, disconnected from its floodplain & lacks habitat.

Desired Condition of the River

Connected to its floodplain with healthy riparian vegetation.

healthy upper truckee river restoration

Restoration of this reach of the Upper Truckee River is critical for improvement of riparian habitat and water quality. The proposed Project achieves a balance to restore function to the river while still providing recreation—consistent with State Parks Mission.

Cyndie WalckEngineering Geologist (specialty Fluvial Geomorphology)

The Problem

Over the past century, the Upper Truckee River has been impacted by logging, gravel mining, grazing, channel manipulation, and the subsequent development of the golf course directly on the floodplain/meadow area in 1958. Prior to the 1940’s this section of the Upper Truckee River was straightened, leading to a decrease in sinuosity and steeping of slope, which increased erosive force. The channel down-cut relative to its floodplain, leaving the old floodplain to become a terrace that is only flooded in less frequent events. Meadow habitat and floodplain function has been lost, and erosion continues. The golf course bridges lock the channel into an unstable configuration and accelerate erosion, while the turf extends to the edge of the river, leaving no habitat corridor or buffer zone between fertilizer application and the stream. These impacts have led to a change in the natural processes that originally formed the river channel and sustained the ecosystem. The result is chronic erosion of the bed and banks of the river, degradation of in-stream and riparian habitat, and poor water quality, which in turn contribute to clarity loss in Lake Tahoe.

For more information, visit History & Background.

Clarity Loss: Sediment Loads into Lake Tahoe

On average, erosion from this golf course river reach, the proposed project area, produces 16 dump trucks of sediment per year (source: Swanson Report). Every year, for decades, this sediment continues to negatively impact aquatic habitat in the river and the clarity of Lake Tahoe. The Upper Truckee River Restoration and Golf Course Reconfiguration Project is a vital solution to this erosion problem. Andrew Simon of the National Sedimentation Laboratory stated:“The Upper Truckee River is the greatest contributor of suspended and fine-grained sediment in the Lake Tahoe Basin.”  

On average, 16 dump trucks of sediment enter Lake Tahoe from the Project reach per year (Source: Swanson Report).  With the 7-year Project delay (on hold due to legalities), this equates to 112 more dump trucks with loads of sediment going into Lake Tahoe (7 years x 16)! 

The Solution

Proposed Project Description

California State Parks is working on a revised alternative for the Upper Truckee River Restoration and Golf Course Reconfiguration Project. The previous project had included swapping of land between Washoe Meadows State Park (WMSP) and Lake Valley State Recreation Area (LVSRA) to accommodate relocating some holes away from the river. The relocated holes were to be moved to previously disturbed land areas only within WMSP and while many community members supported this plan, due to some public opposition, this alternative has been revised to keep all of the golf area within LVSRA. The new proposed project consists of geomorphic-based river restoration, similar to the previous project, coupled with a reconfigured, reduced-footprint 18-hole regulation golf course fully within LVSRA.

Environmental Improvements

The Proposed Project will restore the natural geomorphic and ecological processes to this section of the river by restoring a meandering pattern, and reconnecting the river to its floodplain. This will improve riparian vegetation and wildlife corridors and will reduce erosion and subsequent delivery of clarity-reducing sediment to Lake Tahoe. moved this line up:The golf course would be re-designed and rebuilt within LVSRA to minimize impacts on the SEZ and channel function.

Golf Course Modernization and Recreational Improvements

The 18-hole Audubon award-winning golf course will be reconfigured within LVSRA, relocating golf holes away from the river’s edge and incorporating water conservation efficiencies with an updated irrigation system and a reduction in turf. Existing golf course infrastructure (undersized bridges, fairways, greens, cart paths) near the river would be removed and the area restored and revegetated. New shared-use (golf and non-golf recreation) bridges that span the floodplain would be constructed that would not interfere with stream function. Recreation access would increase to the Upper Truckee River and to Washoe Meadows State Park.

Collaborative Upper Truckee River Restoration Projects

This CA State Parks proposed project, located at the golf course river reach, has a high erosion sediment load into Lake Tahoe and is a high-priority TRPA EIP (Environmental Improvement Project). It is part of a broader, multi-agency collaborative effort, to restore several reaches of the Upper Truckee River and improve Lake Tahoe water clarity. It will significantly improve the environment, recreational opportunities, and local economy. The coordinated interagency and development effort is led by the Upper Truckee River Watershed Advisory Group. To learn more, please view map directly below or go here to enlarge Collaborative Projects Map.

Proposed Project: Conceptual Map of River Restoration

Conceptual maps are subject to change and the final layouts will be created during a later phase of the project.

Proposed Project Conceptual Map of Golf Course Reconfiguration layout:

The golf course will be revitalized entirely within LVSRA to allow more room for river and floodplain restoration. The golf course turf, irrigation, drainage and layout will all be modernized to become more sustainable and playable (most golf courses are updated within a 15-year lifecycle; Lake Tahoe Golf Course is 60-years old). The golf course will continue to be a certified Audubon International Cooperative Sanctuary.

Recent Endorsements: previous proposed Project