We’ve provided answers to some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Please check back for updates.
What is wrong with the river the way it is?
The Upper Truckee River has a long history of disturbance, including channel straightening, grazing, logging, and gravel mining that has negatively impacted the river. The river is unnaturally straight and has downcut and disconnected from its floodplain. It continues to erode its bed and banks. This erosion produces sediment which degrades riparian habitat and water quality both within the river and to Lake Tahoe.
How will access to the river change?
There will be increased access to the river. Over a 1/2 mile of the river that is currently closed will be open to the public with a new ADA trail along the restored river. There will be a new bridge for recreation access to connect the ADA trail from HWY 50 to trails in Washoe Meadows. Increased access will allow more people to enjoy the river and the Park versus the current access situation, which is only from a nearby neighborhood. There will also be a safe route for pedestrians through the golf course and over the river into Washoe Meadows State Park from Country Club Drive.
How much golf course is in a Stream Environment Zone (SEZ) or near to the river?
The proposed Project will reduce the part of the golf course located in a Stream Environment Zone (SEZ) by 10 acres. It will also reduce the area of golf course turf adjacent to the river from over 6300 linear feet to less than 4500 linear feet.
How much of the Golf course is adjacent to the river? Will it decrease?
Yes the golf course next to the river will decrease. Currently over 6,300 feet of the golf course is adjacent to the river, with turf extending to near the river’s edge, leaving no riparian buffer. The proposed Project reduces that by approximately 2000 feet, restoring the riparian floodplain and corridor.
Is part of the golf course going to be relocated into Washoe Meadows State Park (WMSP)?
No it is not. The golf course will be reconfigured entirely within Lake Valley State Recreation Area (LVSRA).
Why not just have a 9 hole course?
Recreational demand is for an 18-hole regulation golf course. Handicaps are based on an 18-hole course and thus it’s required in order to host tournaments. The past economic study showed that a 9-hole course would be only marginally economically feasible, if at all.
Would the golf course be closed during construction?
It is likely that the golf course would be fully closed for one year while the holes are reconfigured, irrigation is installed and turf is grown in. It is possible that part of the course would be closed part of the second year, or that only part of the course would be closed over a period of 2 years, or that a temporary layout would be used.
When was the golf course built and why is it in a meadow?
The golf course was built in 1958-1964 on the former meadow floodplain (former because the river had eroded and lowered its bed, disconnecting from the meadow and leaving it drier). The golf irrigation and turf are dilapidated and in need of repair. This project will replace the decaying irrigation system with a more efficient system and refresh the majority of the turf.
Why hasn't the infrastructure at the golf course been upgraded already since it is so old and deteriorated?
CA State Parks owns the golf course and facilities and it is leased to a concessionaire to operate. The concessionaire pays Parks rent, and a portion of that is used to maintain the facilities and golf course, but is insufficient for major upgrades or reinvestment. Parks and the operator have discussed the need to replace irrigation system, and options to fund it, but that was put on hold until the river restoration and golf reconfiguration design is completed.
How does the golf course revenue support State Parks?
Revenue from the golf course generates approximately $650,000 per year to CA State Parks. It is the only park in the Sierra district that operates at a profit and revenue from the course helps to support other parks to stay open, such as Emerald Bay, Sugar Pine Point, and Washoe Meadows.
What will happen to fees to play at the golf course?
Currently fees range up to $99 dollars. Fees will continue to be capped by CA State Parks, with the goal of providing an affordable golf course to the community and visitors.
Why keep the golf course?
The purpose of LVSRA is to provide an affordable public 18-hole golf course. The golf course serves as a community hub for nonprofit fundraising, theater, and special events. The South Tahoe High School golf teams train on the facility, and it supplies both full-time and part-time jobs in our community. Revenue from the golf course generates approximately $650,000 per year to CA State Parks. It is the only park in the Sierra district that operates at a profit and revenue from the course helps to support other parks to stay open, such as Emerald Bay, Sugar Pine Point, and Washoe Meadows. The golf course can be reconfigured to maintain its championship 18-hole status without compromising the quality of the restoration project. It’s Audubon certification will continue to ensures that this course continues to implement the best environmental practices that keep it as healthy habitat for wildlife.
Will the golf course still be an 18-hole regulation course?
Yes, it will have similar par and yardage to the existing course but the layout will change.
Will the golf play change substantially?
The reconfigured course will have a similar par, yardage and slope as the existing course. The course will be revitalized by having a new layout, new more efficient irrigation system, and new drought tolerant turf. In addition, the port-o-potties will be replaced with new restrooms. State Parks is committed to keeping Lake Tahoe Golf Course as an affordable public golf course. Fees are evaluated yearly and adjusted. It is anticipated that green fees will increase within an affordable pricing strategy.
Why do the holes need to move?
The holes occupy the former floodplain. In order to make room to restore the river meanders and habitat, the holes need to move away from the river. Otherwise, the area adjacent to the river will flood more often, have a higher water table and will be unsuitable for golf turf.
Is the golf course currently on California State Park (CSP) property? Why does CSP own a golf course?
Yes the golf course is in Like Valley State Recreation Area. The golf course was built prior to acquisition of the property by CSP, which leases the course to a concessionaire to operate for public recreation to align with the department’s mission to provide high quality outdoor recreation.
How will the Wildlife in the project area be affected?
This is a key subject area to be analyzed in the EIR/EIS. Wildlife surveys for various species have been conducted in the past to support the EIR/EIS, as well as recent record searches. Additional surveys will be required pre-construction as part of permit requirements, and appropriate avoidance measures will be specified. The proposed project will increase and improve both in-stream and riparian habitats in and along the Upper Truckee River by restoring floodplain connectivity and more natural geomorphic conditions.
What sensitive species are there in the park?
Surveys have been conducted for sensitive species in the park, including yellow-legged frogs. There are no listed species in the Project area. Surveys have also been conducted for the Sand Lily: it is present in the dry meadow by the old barn in WMSP, but not in the Project area.
Will the project improve habitat?
Yes, by restoring the river meanders and connecting it to the floodplain, the water table will be higher, supporting riparian and wetland vegetation. Also by relocating some golf holes away from the river and away from the Angora Creek confluence, turf areas will be converted to meadow habitat.
How will trails and public recreation access be improved?
Under the proposed project, a new trail will connect from the bike path along Highway 50, follow the river to cross a shared-use bridge and then tie into the trails in WMSP. The trail will be constructed to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible standards, and ADA parking will also be added. Access will also be added at Country Club Dr. along with a shared use bridge with access from the neighborhood to WMSP. Two new public restrooms, one at each location, will complement the public amenities (vs. the current porta-potty)
Are there other layouts or variations for the river and/or golf course that could be possible?
As long as those options are within the framework of the proposed Project and within the envelope of golf-allowable in LVSRA, they can be considered. Basically, it is feasible to consider variations of the project, including design variations for the river and/or golf course as long as they do not have additional/increased impact and are within the area analyzed. The proposed Project in the EIR/EIS includes full restoration of the segment of the river within the LVSRA and WMSP and allows for reconfiguration of the golf course within the envelope to keep an 18-hole regulation golf course. Alternative golf layouts or river alignments that are feasible and can achieve these goals (18-hole course with geomorphic river restoration) within the golf allowable envelope and the study area are considered covered by the joint EIR/EIS document.
How would the Project be funded?
This project is part of a regional solution for reducing sedimentation into Lake Tahoe. The project has been in planning stages for many years. State Parks has funding earmarked for the design phase. During that phase, the Department will contract to have the river design completed and engineer stamped plans prepared.
Funding for implementation of the river restoration is anticipated to be funded by future grants. Funding for reconfiguration of the golf course, caused by the river restoration, is yet to be determined. There will be no direct impact on taxpayers.
During this design phase, State Parks will be working with TRPA, CDFW, and the Water Quality Control board to provide guidelines on the Best Management Practices that need to be included in permits and incorporated during and post construction to avoid any water quality or other impacts.
What will be the access for construction?
Access for golf reconfiguration and river restoration construction will be primarily from Highway 50 to the main golf course entrance, but will also include access form the corner of Country Club Drive. Access for work on the far side of the river will also be needed here: from Sawmill Rd on the north and from Chilicothe St. on the southwest.
I don't understand what the difference is between LVSRA (Lake Valley State Recreation Area) and WMSP (Washoe Meadows State Park)?
Both LVSRA and WMSP were acquired as one property, and then split into 2 units to allow for continuation of the existing golf course within LVSRA. The state recreation units (LVSRA) consist of areas selected, developed, and operated to provide multiple recreational opportunities to meet other than a purely local need. WMSP: The purpose of State Parks shall be to preserve outstanding natural, scenic, and cultural values. Improvements undertaken within State Parks shall be for the purpose of making the areas available for public enjoyment and education in a manner consistent with the preservation of natural, scenic, cultural, and ecological values for present and future generations.
Will the project remove trees?
Much of the reconfigured golf course will occupy the existing turf areas, but there will be some tree removal required for the holes relocated from near the river, as well as decadent trees within the golf course. Trees will be removed along the river corridor as part of the river restoration. Much of the area where trees would be removed would be prescribed to reduce fuels and fire hazard.
How will the project improve fire protection?
The current forested areas are overstocked and over-crowed and in need of thinning. The project would reduce fuels and fire risk.
What was the lawsuit about?
A lawsuit challenging the adequacy of the EIR/EIS/EIS was filed in Alameda County Superior Court on February 29, 2012. The trial court granted the petition on four grounds: The draft EIR/EIS/EIS did not identify a stable proposed project because it set forth a range of alternatives without designating a preferred alternative. The final EIR/EIS/EIS did not sufficiently explain why the preferred alternative was substantially the same as Alternative 2 in the draft EIR/EIS/EIS. The vegetation mapping in the final EIR/EIS/EIS differed from that included in the draft EIR/EIS/EIS and required recirculation of the final EIR/EIS/EIS. The mitigation measures listed in the final EIR/EIS/EIS for protecting identified cultural sites, as well as fens and other wetlands, improperly deferred mitigation by failing to set a performance standard or to commit to further environmental review.
State Parks is in the process of preparing a new EIR with a proposed project/preferred alternative to restore the river and revitalize the golf course totally within LVSRA.