July/August 2018 Newsletter
You may have heard that Tahoe's 2017 mid-lake clarity declined by 9.5 feet - the worst annual average mid-lake clarity ever recorded. Researchers from U.C. Davis discussed the circumstances behind the low clarity in a recent press release and 6/27 presentation to the TRPA Governing Board indicating that extreme weather is the culprit:
“The combination of arguably the most extreme drought period ending with the most extreme precipitation year produced the low clarity values seen. But this does not reflect the long-term trend, and measurements for 2018 have already shown a large improvement that are more in line with the long-term trend.”
- Dr. Geoff Schladow
When asked what we could have done to prevent the impacts to clarity, Dr. Schladow explained it was not possible to design a project to deal with this scale of flooding. However, the key to better understanding the lake's internal processes so we can better adapt to climate change is a greater investment in lake monitoring . We agree, and are proposing more sufficient and frequent monitoring be required by TRPA's new Shoreline Plan (details below). You can learn more at the upcoming "State of the Lake" presentation on 7/26.

FOWS also believes it is important to do everything we can to best prepare Tahoe to adapt to climate change, however current requirements are not good enough. For example, regulations are based on decades-old engineering requirements regarding storm water volume and do not sufficiently address the more periodic and intense storms we are now seeing.

Finally, please note FOWS' third annual community party is scheduled for August 16 at West Shore Pizza in Tahoma. Come celebrate with us and enjoy good food, drinks, community camaraderie, and conversation!
   
Sincerely, 
 
Judith Tornese,
President

PS: If you belong to a Homeowners Association (HOA) on the West Shore, FOWS welcomes the opportunity to update your group on West Shore activities during your annual HOA meetings this year. Please contact us for more information.
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With fire season upon us, FOWS encourages you to register your cell phone (click below):
Project updates:
Meeks Bay Marina:

The US Forest Service (USFS) still aims to release the Notice of Intent/Notice of Preparation (NOI/NOP) this summer. The project will evaluate opportunities for restoration, relocating/modifying some recreational uses, vehicular and pedestrian circulation, and other actions in the campground, resort, and marina. FOWS will keep you updated.
State Route 89 Corridor Planning (Tahoma to South Lake Tahoe):

The SR 89 "Corridor" Planning project will look at issues like parking along the highway, curb and gutter, pedestrian access, etc., with emphasis on Emerald Bay and the Camp Richardson areas. The project will also look at potential bike path routes south of Meeks Bay and through the corridor. Valuable information has been gathered about the current roadway-related problems and one thing is clear - resolving the issues will not be as simple as adding more parking spaces or trying to get more people to ride existing transit services. Solutions will require multiple approaches and collaboration across the board.

Beginning in July, TRPA and other project planners will initiate surveys to gather input from the public. We encourage those interested to sign up for their e-news list . FOWS will also inform you of any opportunities online, once available. View the project's fact sheet or read more details here .
Alpine Meadows to Squaw Valley Base-to-Base Gondola:

The draft Environmental Impact Statement/Report (DEIS/R) was released on 4/27 with public comments due by 6/11 ( read FOWS comments here ). FOWS was pleased to see the inclusion of two alternative routes for the proposed gondola that do not cross land within the Granite Chief Wilderness Area (GCWA) boundary, however there were technical deficiencies with the environmental analysis that need to be resolved in the final EIS/R. Concerns are also summarized in FOWS' recent Alert .
Other projects: 
 
Regional and local planning updates:
TRPA Shoreline Ordinances:

In early May TRPA released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for a new set of proposed Shoreline Ordinances that allow more piers, buoys, boat ramps, and marina expansions ( read FOWS comments here ). Concerns include:

  • Inadequate requirements for enforcement, which is relied upon to mitigate numerous environmental and public health and safety impacts.
  • Lack of sufficient improvements for the safety and experience of non-motorized watercraft recreation users and beach-goers.
  • Deficient analyses of impacts to air quality, water quality, noise, greenhouse gas emissions, non-motorized recreation, and public health and safety.
  • No shoreline-specific monitoring requirements related to air quality, water quality (limited references are made to additional nearshore monitors but there is no plan or detail), noise, non-motorized recreation use and safety, or scenic resources.

While the purpose of the DEIS is to evaluate the environmental impacts of multiple new plan options, TRPA's Proposed Plan provides only one benefit - more access for motorized boats. The DEIS concludes no benefits to the environment. None. The DEIS evaluates two alternative plans that reduce harm to Lake Tahoe (Alternatives 3 and 4), and one which focuses primarily on increased, non-motorized public access to the lake (Alternative 4) rather than increases in motorized boat use.
TRPA Threshold Update:

In late May, the TRPA Board approved non-substantive 'technical changes' to their environmental threshold standards to reduce the overlap of standards and improve organization. Revisions are now being considered for forest-related standards, stemming from work being done by the Lake Tahoe West Restoration Partnership and are focused on measurable values that represent healthy forests. FOWS will be watching these closely to advocate for proposed changes that are in line with the best available science and result in equal or better protection than the existing standards. TRPA will soon consider changes to stream environment zone and vehicle-related standards. FOWS will continue to follow this process.
New website for planning your transportation:
Multiple Tahoe agencies have created a new website aimed to help people " Get to, through, and around Lake Tahoe ." We encourage you to check it out and help spread the word!

FOWS is looking for a few good men and women to join our Board!
Please contact Judith Tornese at jmtornese@aol.com for more information.
Ways to support FOWS:

FOWS is always in need of funds to support the use of our consultant who reviews and makes scientific comments to the Tahoe agencies to improve local projects.  Please consider a donation soon!

Save Mart: 

The eScrip Shares program allows shoppers to designate FOWS to receive donations earned through their purchases; up to 3% of your purchase at Save Mart and other stores will be donated to FOWS at no cost to you. Sign up for a new account or register your existing account through this link , then simply provide your phone number at checkout and funds are donated to FOWS ( click here for a short instruction sheet to get you started ) .

Amazon Smile: 

We've joined the Amazon Smile program; all you have to do is order from Amazon through this link and 0.5% of your purchase will be donated to FOWS at no additional cost to you!
We invite you to contact us to learn more, ask questions, or simply get to know the FOWS Board. 

Please contact Jennifer Quashnick, FOWS Conservation Consultant, at: jqtahoe@sbcglobal.net , or Judith Tornese, FOWS President, at: jmtornese@aol.com .
Friends of the West Shore | www.friendswestshore.org