More than that of leaves changing colors, Fall in the Sierra is a time of golden grasses. Above, the Upper Truckee River meanders toward the shore of Lake Tahoe.
This meadow is part of the largest wetland in the Tahoe basin, stretching back several miles along Highway 50 towards Echo Summit. In the last half century this area has seen dramatic changes. Christopher Soulard and Christian Raumann of the United States Geological Survey have compiled historic orthoimagery data on South Lake Tahoe, of which this meadow, being adjacent to Tahoe Keys, is of particular note. In fact, Google Earth used the USGS Tahoe data for its first historical imagery sample (read about it in the New York Times). The dredging of Tahoe Keys has created some of the most dramatic environmental damage to the Tahoe ecosystem.
Today, the Upper Truckee is the focus of major environmental restoration. Of primary concern is a golf course that restricts and narrows the river’s flow and is a significant source of sedimentation into the lake. Over the last twenty years the realignment of the river through the golf course has, in some parts, eroded 50 feet of the embankment. The current plan calls for moving the golf course into undisturbed neighboring lands in Washoe Meadows State Park so as to restore the river’s natural flow and its adjoining riparian habitat. This plan has upset both golfers, who are concerned about increased course fees, and environmentalists, who wish to protect surrounding forest lands. The park enjoys the golf revenue and says that the forest land to be offset by the golf course is not endangered habitat and is scarcely used (by humans). Now that I know the park is there, I’ll go visit it. Just sayin’.