River Restoration coupled with revitalization of 60-year-old golf course
Water scientists, conservationists, trail users, and golfers will all share something in common if they win this next round. The Restore Upper Truckee River Project aims to reconfigure and revitalize the Lake Tahoe Golf Course and restore the 1.5-mile river segment that runs through California State Parks to improve the river habitat and water quality of Lake Tahoe. A new Environmental Impact Statement (EIR) is underway with a scoping meeting, open to the public, planned for January 25, 2022.
For more than a decade, this stretch of river near Meyers has been the center of focus for those who aim to improve the river and environment at Lake Tahoe. Meanwhile, the golf course maintenance crew at the 60-year old facility is in a constant state of repairing and fixing ancient irrigation pipes, dealing with drainage problems, and trying to salvage areas of degraded turf, and meanwhile the river continues to erode. 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.” Both the river and the golf course are ready for this project.
The Project’s primary goal is to restore the river, revitalize the affordable public golf course, improve recreational access, and continue the economic benefits to the local region. Restoration of this stretch of the Upper Truckee River through Washoe Meadows State Park and Lake Valley State Recreation Area (LVSRA), will both reduce sediment impacts into Lake Tahoe and improve riparian habitat along the river, according to Cyndie Walck, Engineering Geomorphologist with California State Parks, who has worked on this project for 15 years.
California State Parks and Walck are working with renowned, golf architect Forrest Richardson to develop a new plan to reconfigure and revitalize the 18-hole, Audubon award-winning golf course entirely within LVSRA. Richardson specializes in reconfiguration and transformation of existing courses and aims for sustainability, playability and fun with his golf course designs. He sees big potential in the smaller-footprint golf layout for both existing and new golfers. Richardson has produced a conceptual design for the golf course within LVSRA with a similar par and yardage to the existing course which includes enhanced views and returning nines. In 2020, he began a year-long term as president of the American Society of Golf Course Architects (https://asgca.org/architect/frichardson). “The Lake Tahoe Golf Course is a point of pride for the State and Lake Tahoe Community,” says Richardson. “Not only do we have expansive open space with habitat weaving in and out of the golf uses, but we are providing a place for people to enjoy the outdoors and spend quality time.”
The golf course will be reconfigured entirely within LVSRA to allow more room for river and floodplain restoration, with updates to the turf, irrigation, drainage, and cart paths. General Manager of Lake Tahoe Golf Course Kevin Sommerfeld stated, “most golf infrastructure has a life cycle of 15 to 25 years and because ours is 60-years old, it is in dire need of repairs and renovation.”
In addition, recreation access and connectivity will be improved to open a ½-mile section of the previously closed river to the public for biking, hiking, fishing, and swimming. It would also deliver a new ADA accessible trail along the restored river and connect HWY 50 to a new recreation bridge to tie into trails on the west side of the river in Washoe Meadows State Park.
The Project is part of a joint coordinated effort with several agencies, which includes sections of the river from Lake Tahoe up through Christmas Valley, to restore the Upper Truckee River and improve Lake Tahoe clarity. “Restoration of this reach of the Upper Truckee River is critical for improvement of riparian habitat and water quality,” said Walck.
Conceptual Map: The final layout will be developed during a later phase but will be within the golf-allowable envelope shown below. The 60-year-old golf course will be revitalized within LVSRA to allow more room for river and floodplain restoration. Golf course turf, irrigation, drainage, and layout will be updated (most golf courses are updated within a 15- year lifecycle). Lake Tahoe Golf Course will become more sustainable and playable with the revitalization efforts.
The project will restore the river to a natural form, reconnect it to its floodplain, improve riparian habitat and corridor, and protect water quality. Revitalization of the Lake Tahoe Golf Course will improve its sustainability, both environmentally and economically. This will help it to remain both an affordable, local choice and with 2/3 of play currently by visitors, a critical economic driver of the local and regional economy.
The public is invited to give input and ideas at the Scoping Meeting to take place on Tuesday, January 25, 2022, via a Zoom webinar with two presentations at 4pm and 5:30pm. The purpose of the Scoping Meeting is to gather information about the extent and depth of the analysis to be conducted for the EIR/EIS/EIS but it does not consider comments or opinions regarding approval or disapproval of the Proposed Project. For more information about the Scoping Meeting, Zoom invite link and details, please visit: https://restoreuppertruckee.net/join-the-effort-get-involved/