Saturday, September 29, 2007

CTC develops sensitive area

unedited Tahoe Mt. News article from September:

Conservancy taking over Elks property

By Kathryn Reed

Expect the Elks’ Lodge to disappear before winter arrives.
The California Tahoe Conservancy board unanimously gave the OK on Aug. 13 to purchase the 3.07 acres at Elks Club Drive and Highway 50 for $2.2 million. Elks Club Lodge No. 2094 has owned the property for more than 40 years, though the Conservancy has eyed it for 13 years.
Part of the deal is the Elks will remove the 5,600-square-foot lodge before escrow closes, which is expected by mid-November.
Money for the acquisition comes from the Conservancy’s Stream Environmental Zone and Public Access-Recreation programs.
A benefit to the land acquisition is that it comes with 83,725 square feet of coverage and eight sewer units. Those rights are sellable.
The flea market is expected to operate through its usual Oct. 31 closing date. Discussions are under way to keep the market there while planning goes, which could be a couple years. This could generate $20,000 a year in income for the CTC.
The property is right on the Upper Truckee River. During the floods of 2005 the current parking lot was under water, with the structure looking much like an island.
“I think after restoration we would hope some of the ground will be lower so seasonally high groundwater enters the area more regularly,” said Bruce Eisner, program manager with CTC. “We could change the parking lot. It would make sense to be closer to the road than closer to the river. We need the hydrologists and other ologists to say what it should look like in the long term.”
What it will cost to improve and upkeep the site depends on what it is used for. That decision is likely to take a couple years – public comment and environmental documents are necessary components to future development.
CTC officials expect two-thirds of the acreage to be converted to wetlands and floodplain restoration. The remaining land would be improved for better public access to the river.
It’s possible the South Tahoe Greenway bike path could intersect there, which may require the Elks site to be converted into a trailhead with better parking and public restrooms.
At the meeting last month, board Chairman Larry Sevison, who represents Placer County, brought up the possibility of looking into a commercial rafting enterprise at the river much like what is done in Tahoe City.
It was noted that the flow of water into Tahoe City portion of the Truckee is regulated by the water master in Reno via the dam, whereas on the South Shore it’s up to Mother Nature to dictate the flow.
“It seems like the season would be so short and you would be introducing a level of use that is quite a bit different than what has historically occurred,” Eisner said after the meeting.

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