TRUCKEE, CALIFORNIA — After extensive public outreach, involving public meetings and focus groups attended by more than 100 people, an online survey that received more than 700 replies, a thorough evaluation of the risk of aquatic invasive species (AIS) introductions, and stipulations in grant agreements with state and federal agencies, as well as financial costs and administrative and logistical issues, The Nature Conservancy today announced its new recreational plan for this summer for the Independence Lake Preserve, located just north of Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
In order to keep the water in Independence Lake clean, maintain public access to the lake and reduce the risk that aquatic invasive plants and animals might contaminate the lake, The Nature Conservancy along with its partner the Truckee Donner Land Trust will provide motorboats, kayaks and fishing pontoons for on-site use by the public. The public will also have access to some walk-in campsites, and the woods surrounding Independence Lake will be open to hikers.
No boats or paddlecraft from outside the preserve will be permitted. The motorboats will only be available for rent every other week, and the campsites and all watercraft will be available weekly on a first-come, first-served basis.
“The survey showed overwhelming public support for maintaining the Independence Lake Preserve as a serene and pristine environment that provides a unique Sierra experience,” said David Edelson, Sierra Nevada Project Director for The Nature Conservancy in California. “This plan balances our conservation commitments and goals while also allowing public access and diverse recreation preferences such as boating, camping, hiking, kayaking and fishing.”
Aquatic invasive species pose a real threat to Sierra lakes. The Eurasian water milfoil plant could be transported from other bodies of water on boats or trailers and be introduced into these waters. Dense stands of Eurasian water milfoil can negatively impact recreational uses like swimming, boating and fishing and can result in deteriorating water quality and water clarity.
Other invasive species like zebra mussels and quagga mussels could choke the outflow of Independence Lake, interfering with the delivery of water downstream to the Reno-Sparks area and increasing the costs of water delivery. In addition, these mussels’ sharp shells can hurt both human feet as well as dogs’ and other animals’ paws.
As we move into the 2011 season at Independence Lake, recreation access and uses will be implemented in a timely and prudent way to ensure a quality experience for visitors. Learn more about recreation options and the public input process. (http://tncindependencelake.wordpress.com/)
Depending on weather and snow conditions, the Independence Lake Preserve should be open to the public on July 2.
“We hope that people from throughout California and Nevada will come for the day or for a few days and enjoy the wonder of this amazing Sierra treasure,” Edelson concluded.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.