In 2018, the largest remaining privately-owned meadow along the Upper Truckee River was acquired by Tahoe Resource Conservation District (Tahoe RCD), a conservation organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the natural resources of Lake Tahoe. The approximately 206-acre property, known as Johnson Meadow, is located along the lower nine miles of the Upper Truckee River in the heart of South Lake Tahoe. Johnson Meadow is adjacent to town centers, neighborhoods, social service centers, plenty of public forest land, and is an important habitat and open space resource. In the last year Tahoe RCD staff completed several priority projects in Johnson Meadow including: removal of remnant fencing, clearing log and slash debris along the river, removing litter from former illegal encampments, and hazard tree mitigation work. As part of ongoing monitoring efforts, our Land Stewards have been patrolling the area to engage with visitors, keep an eye on use patterns, and identify potential restoration needs.
With funding provided by the Bureau of Reclamation through the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act, Tahoe RCD is excited to start the next phases of restoration planning. The long-term goals for the property are to enhance wildlife habitat, open space, and to create connectivity to the Upper Truckee River and surrounding neighborhoods while preventing future environmental impacts by protecting sensitive resources. Ongoing restoration opportunities may include floodplain reestablishment, sediment filtration improvements, wet meadow habitat enrichment, and sustainable community connectivity enhancements.
“Only a year after acquisition, we are thrilled to start planning efforts for both restoration and public access,” said Carl Ribaudo, Tahoe RCD Board Chair, “Connectivity from town centers to neighborhoods and adjacent forests is a priority for the community and we are working hard to accomplish this great need.”
Johnson Meadow was privately owned for over 100 years and until recently cattle grazed the meadow. In Winter of 2017 and prior to Tahoe RCD’s acquisition, the pedestrian river crossing behind Barton Hospital became impassible when the bridge was blocked by woody debris preventing large runoff flows from going under the bridge. The water charted its own course, breaking the bridge’s connection to the west side. Tahoe RCD is working with partners and adjacent landowners to identify the best location for a new pedestrian crossing and identify planning and construction funding. The precise location of a new crossing will be determined through robust study to ensure long term sustainability and adherence to other existing regional mobility plans. Bridge replacement is part of an ongoing discussion between Tahoe RCD and our partners. Ensuring a sustainable and safe solution will take time but is a priority for all involved.
“Tahoe RCD looks forward to working with the community,” Mollie Hurt, director of programs at Tahoe RCD “and hope that everyone will help us protect this beautiful treasure.”
Please remember that restoration and creating safe public access to the Upper Truckee River will take time. Here are a few simple things you can do to help the meadow stay healthy and intact:
- Please stay on existing trails
- Please keep your dogs on leash
- Pick up after your pet
- No camping or fires
- Don’t litter – Pack it in, Pack it out
Please visit our website for more information: http://tahoercd.org/johnson-meadow/
About the Tahoe Resource Conservation District
Tahoe Resource Conservation District’s mission is to promote the conservation, stewardship and knowledge of the Lake Tahoe Region’s natural resources by providing leadership and innovative environmental services to all stakeholders. Tahoe RCD is a division of local government that is non-regulatory, designed to implement local conservation measures. Tahoe RCD strives to protect our natural resources including soil and water, wildlife habitat enhancement and restoration, control and prevention of invasive species, watershed restoration, wildfire prevention, and environmental education. Tahoe RCD is unique and diverse by being able to receive funding through state, federal, local, and private sources.