On Saturday, April 18th, a forum on Van Norden lake and meadow was presented by the Donner Summit Area Association (DSAA) at Sugar Bowl and was well attended. As a presenter at the forum I would like to sincerely thank DSAA for all their efforts in promoting the important discussion about this valuable resource. This was a perfect example of how our society should work to get a free and open exchange of ideas and concerns. I will shortly have my presentation available on this website in which I tried to present as much factual data as I could about the need to save the lake and marshlands (maybe a little too much since I ran over my time a little). While we felt that for the most part there were many positive points brought out in the presentations and discussion at the forum there were unfortunately, some comments directed at our efforts that I would like to address in the spirit of truth and transparency. I would ask you to consider the following comments and our responses:
- SAVEVANNORDENLAKE.ORG and Bill Oudegeest and myself are anti-Land Trust — This is just not true. Both Bill and I were some of the strongest advocates for the purchase of the Royal Gorge properties. We both donated tens of thousands of dollars to the purchase. Practically all of the photographs used in the campaign to purchase the property were donated by me. I am a strong advocate of the open trail system being implemented by TDLT in the Royal Gorge area. We fully praise the efforts TDLT is making to restore the health of the forest and improve fire safety. We fully support the restoration of the existing meadow habitat in the Summit Valley. The ONLY thing that we are is PRO lake and meadow and do disagree with TDLT’s plan that the lake has to be removed.
- The SAVEVANNORDENLAKE.ORG website is “deceptive” in it’s information — This organization is all about truth and transparency. Of course we are expressing our opinions in many cases, but they are all based on factual data that is publicly accessible to everyone. Where appropriate we cite and link to the appropriate data. I invite anyone to point out anything that we have published on our website with proof that it is inaccurate and we will correct or remove that information.
- SAVEVANNORDENLAKE.ORG is forcing TDLT to spend thousands of dollars in studies and legal fees — Any project with the environmental impact like a plan to drain Van Norden Lake is required by the state of California to satisfy the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act. It is these requirements that necessitate that the proper studies and legal steps be taken for any project of this magnitude. These studies are required by law and would have to be run whether anyone was opposing the plan or not.
- This is a situation of LAKE vs MEADOW — Currently we have a valley that has a natural harmony of rare alpine lake and marshlands surrounded by beautiful meadow. We at SAVEVANNORDENLAKE.ORG strongly support the restoration of the meadow in the valley and support the lake AND meadow, despite the characterization that has been made that we are against restoration of the meadow. We simply advocate the preservation of the lake and marshland habitats that already thrive in the valley in conjunction with the meadow.
- It will be too expensive for TDLT to successively breach the dam 2.2 ft and then later 5 ft if water rights are impossible to obtain — This one is a little inside baseball as they say but this was publicly stated by the director of TDLT at the forum. First of all, the estimate of the construction cost to breach the dam by the contractors Holdredge and Kull is $120,000, not the $500,000 that was stated (see their application to DSOD for the breaching by clicking here). It was also stated that a second breach would require another expensive round of CEQA. The CEQA process is very flexible and allows for alternatives based on project requirements. I have been assured by CEQA experts that successive breaching could easily be handled in a single process without a second round.
We clearly don’t agree with TDLT’s decision to drain Van Norden Lake and will continue to make our case to them for a compromise solution. We will also push for this alternative as well in the CEQA process. We would only ask that the facts be stated clearly and honestly by all parties concerned as we continue these discussions.