Saturday, February 28, 2009

Barton Meadow changes possible

unedited Tahoe Mt. News 1/09 story

By Kathryn Reed

Human recreation needs, Lake clarity and wildlife habitat are the major components being considered as plans go forward to change Barton Meadow.
In December, Peter Eicher and Adam Lewandowski of the California Tahoe Conservancy presented to the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission the four alternatives under review for this area that is also known as the Upper Truckee Marsh. Four alternatives exist for restoring the portion of the Upper Truckee River that comes out at Cove East in the Tahoe Keys; and four alternatives are provided for recreation on the other side of the river – Barton Meadow.
Unlike most projects, the draft EIR/EIS will not have a preferred alternative. Instead, officials want people to pick and choose from the proposals to devise a final version. A draft of the environmental documents for this expanse in the middle of South Lake Tahoe is expected to be released in late spring. At that time public comment will be formally sought.
Because funding to improve this CTC owned meadow is likely to come from federal agencies an environmental impact statement is needed.
CTC wants to begin work on the three-year project in 2011. Costs are roughly estimated between $15 million and $20 million. That money has not been secured.
The recreation component could affect Cove East, but will have the most impact on people living on the other side of the river in the Al Tahoe neighborhood.
Although no one from the public was at last month’s meeting, past public gatherings have created an outpouring of concern about parking. Residents don’t want their narrow streets filled with people accessing meadow trails that lead to Harootunian and Barton beaches.
Gary Moore, city recreation director, said discussions have begun regarding the possibility of issuing parking permits to residents so law enforcement would know which vehicles should be parked in the area.
Many of the commissioners were in support of the proposal with the most recreation benefits. This includes creating a boardwalk along the beaches that would also come with a crossing over the river so people could travel to Cove East. The idea is that this would serve as a critical link between bike routes.
However, the Cove East trail is dirt and doesn’t work for road bikes. The composition of a boardwalk may not be conducive to road bike riding either.
Some commissioners expressed an interest in building a trail through the meadow. The CTC guys noted this would not be good for wildlife.
One alternative for river restoration has it returning to what it was like in the 1930s when it had several branches flowing into the Lake. This would impact canoeists and kayakers who like to exit along Venice Drive or go out to the Lake.
Another alternative had no beach access from Al Tahoe. Moore was adamant that blocking off the meadow will not deter people. He likes the approach that providing a distinct route gives trail users what they want and keeps people out of sensitive areas.
More information is at

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