One of the questions I’m hearing about our efforts to preserve Van Norden Lake and its surrounding wetlands is “Why now?” This question can be looked at in two contexts; “Too early” and “Too late”.
Some of you that are unaware of our efforts may ask why we didn’t do more during the outreach program that the Truckee Donner Land Trust (TDLT) conducted last summer. The reason that you may not have heard much about our efforts in the last 6 months is because we were trying to work quietly with the Land Trust to convince them that the best course of action was to preserve the lake and wetlands. After the acquisition of the lake by the Land Trust and the situation with the lake and dam became clearer, we presented our solution for a second lake early last summer. As our plan was examined by the various agencies involved it was necessary to modify the plans to meet government and safety requirements (see the current Two Lake plan). We continued to work with the Land Trust during the fall to hone out a plan that would work for everyone. We can say unequivicoly that working with Perry Norris and John Svahn of the Land Trust was a productive and positive experience. We felt that the Land Trust was completely above board with us and genuinely considered our input. Late in the year, however, when we met with the Land Trust they informed us that they were going to go ahead with their plan to reduce the lake to less than 50 acre-ft of water without our two lake mitigation plan. They further informed us that the reason was not due to the additional costs involved, but due to the refusal of the US Forest Service to accept our plan. The reason this is so important is the US Forest Service is slated to purchase the Summit Valley parcels from the Land Trust in the next two years. The reasons for the Forest Service’s refusal are unclear to us and we plan to explore it with them in the future and will report our findings here.
I have heard from others of you that ask why start a campaign in the dead of winter when the lake is hidden under a blanket of snow and out of the minds of most people. Why not wait until summer when the beauty of the lake is fresh in everyone’s mind. If you haven’t read the “Too Late” paragraph above now is the time to do so. The Land Trust has a deadline for fixing the current Van Norden dam which is out of compliance. In addition they are also trying to expedite selling the Summit Valley parcels to the Forest Service which can’t happen until the dam issue is solved. What that means is that a solution has to be planned, approved and implemented this year. The planning is already in progress and will probably be submitted for approval by Nevada County this spring so that work can begin in the summer. That is why NOW is the time for launching this campaign. It is our belief that most of you enjoy the Van Norden lake and meadow as it is now and do not want to see it drastically changed (you can make your opinions know by taking our survey). We also believe that the reluctance of the Forest Service to accept the Two Lake solution ignores your sentiments for the sake of expediency and following the easier path. Fortunately we live in a country where the voices of its citizens determine the path we take, even if it means taking the harder path to gain the optimum solution. That is why we are reaching out to you now to give you a chance to exercise your democratic power. You can influence the outcome for Van Norden Lake by contacting TDLT (click here) and especially the US Forest Service (click here) to let them know that the lake and wetlands are important to you and you don’t want to lose them.