News Briefs

FAILS TO COMPLY WITH CEQA: State court rules Placer County should rescind approval of the Squaw Valley Specific Plan. Pictured here is a conceptual rendering for the east parcel. Courtesy image

Final Judgment Over Olympic Valley Development

OLYMPIC VALLEY 

On July 29, the Superior Court of the state Of California, County of Placer, ruled in favor of Sierra Watch in the case regarding development of Olympic Valley. 

In 2016, the Placer County Board of Supervisors approved the Village at Squaw Valley Specific Plan and related planning approvals. The development included a series of high-rise condo hotels and a 90,000-square-foot indoor waterpark. The county also certified an environmental impact report for the project as compliant with the California Environmental Quality Act and adopted related CEQA documents. Sierra Watch filed a petition for writ of mandate and complaint for injunctive and declaratory relief, challenging EIR’s adequacy under CEQA. 

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Last week’s final judgment states “the county committed a prejudicial abuse of discretion by failing to comply CEQA when it approved the project and certified the EIR … The county shall vacate and set aside its approval of the project, including the specific plan, the development agreement, the large-lot vesting tentative subdivision map, amendments to the Squaw Valley General Plan and land use ordinance, zoning change, development standards, and related resolutions and ordinances.” 

“While the superior court originally determined Placer County complied with the California Environmental Quality Act, in December 2021, the Third District Court of Appeal opinion reversed portions of the Superior Court’s decision and instructed the court to enter a new judgment,” shared Kat Walton, public relations specialist with Palisades Tahoe. “The judgment issued on Thursday by the superior court is procedural and complies with the Court of Appeal’s instructions. Under CEQA, it is the county — not the courts — that ultimately decides whether the previously approved project will move forward. The resort team is currently working with county staff to resolve the issues identified and re-submit the plan for public input on the issues raised by the appellate court this fall.”

~ KM

PETS ARE ‘READY, SET, GO’: Families in Nevada County, including pets, are getting prepared for fire danger and practicing safety. Courtesy photo

2022 Ready, Set, Go! Handbook

NEVADA CITY

The 2022 Ready, Set, Go! handbook has arrived! All Nevada County residents are encouraged to check their mailboxes this week as copies have been sent to every household. Extra copies will be available at the Eric Rood Government Center and the Joseph Center, all local Nevada County Library branches, local fire districts, and schools, or online at readynevadacounty.org/handbook.

Family members should review the updated content, refresh evacuation plans, replenish go bags, and find and write down their evacuation zone. The handbooks include sections that you can fill out to help walk you through your evacuation plans.

A short film version of the Ready, Set, Go! guide was created as a companion in 2021 to make the specific steps to wildfire preparedness more accessible and relatable. Residents are encouraged to watch, share, and discuss with loved ones as they complete their handbooks. It can be found at readynevadacounty.org or on county social media channels.

As in years past, this content was created thanks to the collaborative effort between Town of Truckee, city of Grass Valley, Nevada City, FREED Center for Independent Living, 211 Connecting Point, Fire Safe Council of Nevada County, Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, Nevada City Fire Department, Grass Valley Fire Department, Cal Fire, Keep Truckee Green, and Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District. The ongoing collaboration and partnership are a vital part of the Ready Nevada County initiative that continues to build on the success of the previous three years.

~ Nevada County press release

Regional Data and Roadmap to Improve Behavioral Health

TRUCKEE

The Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation through its program, the Community Collaborative of Tahoe Truckee, has been working with the Katz Amsterdam Foundation since 2020 to collect and analyze community-wide data that would improve the health and well-being of our residents. This partnership has resulted in a Behavioral Health Roadmap to address long-standing behavioral health challenges to our rural community, as well as updated findings from a 2022 community engagement and behavioral health study. Also conducted in three mountain-resort communities, the data helps identify trends, inform decisions and guide efforts to improve community mental health and wellness.

TTCF has released a video with key findings and established a Community Mental Health Fund to help advance its strategic plan for mental health which includes: reducing stigma, aligning resources and ensuring collaboration, and introducing new ways to approach wellness in our region. All of these resources can be found at ttcf.net/in-it-together.

“Living in a rural mountain town comes with stressors that can negatively impact the mental health of our community members,” says CCTT Director Alison Schwedner. “Additionally, we do not have as many resources here as more urban areas which leaves many residents without the services they need. This data has helped CCTT identify creative solutions to fill the gaps and determine the steps to take for the greatest impact. All donations to our Community Mental Health Fund will provide us the flexible funding to implement solutions to address the health needs of our Tahoe/Truckee people.”

Through phone-based random sampling and an internet-based survey, individuals over the age of 18 in the Truckee/North Tahoe region were surveyed on questions around community life, social support, mental health and substance abuse. Key findings included:

  • One-third of residents reported needing mental health services in the past year
  • Housing is the number1 challenge to mental health and well-being in our community
  • Forty percent of residents have considered leaving North Tahoe because of housing instability, lack of stable employment, or insufficient income to cover expenses
  • Forty-seven percent of residents say they have experienced three or more poor mental health days in the past month
  • Nearly 40% of residents reported feeling isolated from others

~ Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation press release 

TDPUD to Break Ground on Pioneer Trail Pipeline Project

TRUCKEE

This September, the Truckee Donner Public Utility District will break ground on the Pioneer Trail Pipeline Project. This highly-anticipated water project is critical to the health of the community’s water service and will strengthen the reliability of TDPUD’s water delivery system. TDPUD has not taken on a water project of this size and scope since 2008. The project will have significant impacts on the use of the Trout Creek Trail, including trail closures in fall 2022 and spring/summer 2023. The project will begin on Sept. 6 and is expected to conclude in fall 2023.

The Pioneer Trail Pipeline Project involves the construction of a new water pipeline and a new pump station to serve the Tahoe Donner subdivision. The new pipeline will connect existing water piping on Northwoods Boulevard to a new pump station located to the southwest of the intersection of Pioneer Trail and Comstock Drive. The existing pipeline and the accompanying pump stations were constructed in the early 1970s and are approaching the end of their useful life. Construction of the new pipeline will give the district the ability to rehabilitate the existing facilities. 

This project also improves TDPUD’s capacity and resiliency in providing potable water and fire flow into Tahoe Donner. Four fire hydrants will also be added to the Trout Creek Trail area. TDPUD will also be installing $1 million of new primary power and communications conduits in a joint trench along with the water pipeline for future network build-out.

The Trout Creek Trail closure will begin Tuesday, Sept. 6, and is expected to last about two months. The trail will be closed at the bridge over Trout Creek for the entirety of this period, and as needed at select sections to the east of Trout Creek for tree removal work. The trail will be reopened to the public for winter 2022/23. This closure will allow for the installation of the new water pipeline and conduits on the existing bridge across Trout Creek. In order to minimize any potential environmental impact, this work must be performed in the fall during the low flow period of the creek.

In late April 2023, the trail will close again, with an anticipated reopening by July 4, 2023. This timing will be dependent on snow coverage. The trail will be closed to all access from Northwoods Boulevard to about a half mile east of the bridge. The project will be completed in fall 2023.

As part of the project, TDPUD plans to repave the full width of the trail in areas that are disturbed by construction. Final determination of paving needs will be made after the installation of the pipe and conduit is complete.

Information and updates about the Pioneer Trail Pipeline Project can be found on the TDPUD website: tdpud.org/pioneerpipeline. A map of the project can be found here.

~ TDPUD Press Release

Leadership Program Graduates 24 More Leaders

TRUCKEE/NORTH LAKE TAHOE

The North Lake Tahoe-Truckee Leadership Program has successfully completed its 18th year by graduating 24 strong, smart, leaders.  

The leadership program creates an opportunity for potential leaders to broaden their understanding of the region and its issues, challenges, and opportunities; while honing and developing their leadership skills. Since 2004, the program has graduated over 430 individuals. 

As part of the five-month program, participants worked on action plans designed to enhance some aspect of local community life. These action plans are intended to provide the framework to allow for real-world changes in the community. Through interviews, surveys, and research, teams developed a program rationale, a needs assessment, proposed budget, timeline, community collaborations, and promotional packet. The results of these projects were presented during the final day workshop. This year the projects were: Truckee Dark Sky Program, Truckee Gear Library, Rewilding Truckee Tahoe, Garbage Game, and Good Neighbor Program. Several of these projects are templates that can be used in many different areas of our community.

The leadership program is facilitated by its longtime director of education, Shannon Beets, whoc ontinues to bring her leadership expertise to the program in a unique and dynamic style.  

~ Tahoe Truckee Leadership press release

Nevada County Awards Outdoor Visitor Safety Fund Grants

NEVADA CITY

On July 26, the Nevada County Board of Supervisors accepted the mid-year progress report for their 2022 objectives. Progress highlights for the board’s newest objective, recreation, included recent awards totaling $415,570 in Outdoor Visitor Safety Fund grants to community organizations. The grants, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), respond to the negative economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic with projects to increase resiliency and promote health and safety at highly impacted outdoor recreation destinations. 

Nine projects across Nevada County address unmet needs at popular outdoor recreation sites and meet the goals of the program: to promote public safety and public health, equitable access to recreation opportunities, promote economic development through sustainable recreation, and protect and preserve natural resources. 

Selected projects include visitor outreach as well as the installation and improvement of restrooms and parking, trails, and natural infrastructure.  

Recipients include the Bear Yuba Land Trust, Nevada Irrigation District, South Yuba River Citizen’s League, and Truckee Trails Foundation.

The trails foundation received $25,400 for a visitor safety and environmental hazard prevention program that increases trail host ambassador outreach and safety monitoring, plus installation of two portable restrooms at critical high-volume locations in Donner Summit and east Nevada County year-round; and, $109,370 for installation of vault toilets at Johnson Canyon and Commemorative Overland Emigrant Trail trailhead at Hobart Mills Road. 

Projects were selected by a panel including community members and staff through a competitive process that involved a two-step evaluation.  Projects will be completed by 2024, with many that have already commenced this summer in both east and west Nevada County. 

Colleen Dalton, CEO of Visit Truckee-Tahoe explains, “With ever-increasing users of outdoor recreation in Nevada County, grant funds for Sustainable Truckee Ambassadors, new public toilets and porta potties in high-use areas meets urgently needed health and safety needs. In addition, we are also educating and providing a sense of feeling welcome – especially for new users. Visit Truckee-Tahoe is working closely with Nevada County as our partner on a vision for sustainable outdoor recreation.” 

Nevada County’s Outdoor Visitor Safety Fund Grant Program was established and approved by the Board of Supervisors in April 2021 to provide up to $850,000 in one-time grants to respond to the negative economic impacts of Covid-19 through promoting public health and safety at highly impacted outdoor recreation destinations. Additional consideration was given to those that support economic development, enhance equitable access, address climate change adaptation, and promote environmental sustainability and resilience. 

A second-round call for proposals will open on October 6, with additional funds to be awarded to eligible entities that submit collaborative, highly leveraged, and “shovel-ready” projects for implementation in 2023/24.   

~ Nevada County press release

Ballot Measure Proposing an Increased TOT

EL DORADO COUNTY 

On July 19, the County of El Dorado Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a request from the Chief Administrative Office to place on the November ballot a request that voters support a 4% special tax increase. The special tax increase requires a two-thirds supermajority voter approval of the unincorporated Tahoe area, to the county’s hotel/motel tax, also known as Transient Occupancy Tax. The existing TOT tax is a general tax and intended to remain so whereas the 4% increase would be a special tax dedicated specifically to road maintenance. 

~KM

Butterfield Fire Ignitor Arrested

TRUCKEE

The Town of Truckee Police Department confirmed that Ellen Walters, who was arrested for initially starting the Butterfield Fire in eastern Truckee on July 7, was the same female who trespassed on Truckee-Tahoe Sanitation Agency property earlier that same day. Read Moonshine’s reporting on the situation, Woman Arrested for Intentionally Starting Butterfield Fire; Possible Connection to Nearby Trespassing.

~KM

Closing the Funding Gap for Donner Lake Monitoring Project

TRUCKEE

Clean Up the Lake’s mission to fight against plastic and all forms of pollution has caught the attention of local businesses and foundations; Martis Fund, Tahoe Mountain Resorts Foundation, Truckee Tahoe Lumber Company, and the Parasol Community Foundation who have become major partners on the Donner Lake Monitoring Project. The Town of Truckee has just joined this group as the final partner for this year’s efforts led by Clean Up the Lake on Donner Lake. Support from these specific partnerships, among others, has now completely closed out the total funding required for the 2022 Donner Lake Monitoring Project. 

On July 26, the Truckee Town Council voted unanimously to support the Donner Lake Monitoring Project and to direct funds from the Climate Partnership Capital Improvement Project budget to this program. The council has clearly expressed and communicated the priority of protecting our natural resources and being good stewards to our land, and all agreed that this project aligned with this particular Truckee Town council goal.

The Donner Lake Monitoring Project is in full swing and the team is actively collecting data on litter accumulation trends. This includes; small to moderately sized litter removal, GPS location data on litter hotspots, heavy lift items, unknown or potentially historical items, as well as pilot data on invasive species and any algal bloom presence. The team is even gearing up to examine litter accumulation trends at deeper depths, off of hotspots identified in 2020. All to help capture a comprehensive look at the effects of litter on the underwater environment. Often strapping on additional tanks to increase dive time, the highly experienced deep-dive teams are reaching depths as far as 100 to130 feet in theoretical depths at altitude; often computing to 80 to 100 feet in actual depth.

~ Town of Truckee press release

Moving In, Moving On, Moving Up

DR. AARON J. ULLAND: A new addition at the Tahoe Forest MultiSpecialty Clinics – Primary Care. Courtesy photo

Tahoe Forest Health System Welcomes New Family Medicine Physician

TAHOE/TRUCKEE 

Tahoe Forest Health System is pleased to announce that Aaron J. Ulland, MD, MPH, has joined their team at the Tahoe Forest MultiSpecialty Clinics – Primary Care.

As a family medicine physician, Ulland provides comprehensive health care, including preventive care and chronic disease management, to people of all ages. With a professional background and education in public health and health care policy, Ulland is committed to improving community health and family medicine.

Ulland attended medical school at the University of Minnesota Medical School. He completed his family medicine residency with the University of Minnesota, North Memorial Family Medicine Residency Program, and received his Master of Public Health with an emphasis in Global Health from George Washington University, School of Public Health. Ulland is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine.

~ Tahoe Forest Health System Press Release

Business Briefs

KEEP IT CLEAN: Sign with bears on TSD lift station located on Donner Pass Road. Courtesy photo

TSD Promotes Environmental Stewardship through Donner Lake Signs

TRUCKEE

The Truckee Sanitary District is excited to announce the installation of picturesque signs on five TSD lift station buildings around Donner Lake encouraging environmental stewardship. The signs depict the natural surroundings of Donner Lake and the various wildlife and activities that exist along its shores. The message, “Donner Lake – Keep it Clean” is boldly printed on each sign.

According to TSD General Manager Blake Tresan, “During the summer of 2020 there was a noticeable increase of litter and waste along the shores of Donner Lake. This was a concern at TSD since our mission is protecting Truckee’s public health and environment. So we joined an effort called the Donner Lake Interagency Partnership for Stewardship or DIPS and were discussing various ways to create public awareness of this situation.” TSD reached out to Susie Marcus of Marcus Design who designed five aesthetically pleasing signs. 

Truckee Sanitary District encourages everyone to pick up after themselves so that others can enjoy the beauty of our mountain and lake environment.

~ Truckee Sanitary District press release 

UNDERWATER LAKE TAHOE: Muralist Susie Alexander in the new Underwater Lake Tahoe Lounge at the UC Davis Tahoe Science Center. Courtesy photo

New Mural, Exhibits at UC Davis Tahoe Science Center

INCLINE VILLAGE

The Muralist Susie Alexander of Susie Alexander Art recently completed an artistic rendering of Lake Tahoe’s underwater habitat in the lounge area of the UC Davis Tahoe Science Center. The exhibit shows shallow habitat, deep water habitat, and living aquatic organisms that you might find in those underwater environments.

“This has been such an inspiring three-plus weeks of painting at the UC Davis Tahoe Science Center. I am so inspired to continue painting water. It has become an important topic in the West,” said Alexander.

Look for all the aquatic species that are native to Lake Tahoe, including Lahontan cutthroat trout, Mountain whitefish, Tui chub, Paiute sculpin, Tahoe sucker, Lahontan speckled dace, Lahontan redside shiner, and various zooplankton found in the lake. There are many other species hidden in the gorgeous mural, and many of these organisms have a unique story to be told. The artist’s rendering makes you feel as if you have put on your scuba gear and are floating beneath the water.

The mural project is part of a larger Institute of Museum and Library Services grant-funded project to teach about climate change and aquatic ecosystems. Additional elements including videos, activities, and augmented reality features will be added in the coming months. Additionally, UC Davis installed seven new video exhibits in the permanent exhibits of the Tahoe Science Center. You can learn what makes Lake Tahoe unique, embark on the UC Davis Research Vessel, and see the changes in our watershed at the Virtual Research Vessel. In the Virtual Lab you can find out who lives in Lake Tahoe, discover the impacts of invasive species, get the big story behind the tiniest particles, and help decide the future of Tahoe forests.

~ UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center press release

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