2 Cents on Independence
With The Nature Conservancy’s takeover of the land surrounding Independence Lake, some uses are being curtailed. Currently, the plan is for no overnight use, no driving to the lake and no motors on the lake, not even electric.
TNC and its partners, including the local Trout Unlimited, view this as an opportunity to reclaim the lake. There are Lahontan Cutthroat trout in the lake, one of only two lakes which act as fisheries. The land around the lake has been logged a couple of times, and there have been some degraded watersheds in the area, all of which increase sediment and temperature in the lake.
Currently, the ban against overnight camping is temporary. We’ll see how long it takes to become permanent.
There are a number of sources of public dollars involved, both with the sale and with the management. The operations are to be managed by Truckee Donner Land Trust http://www.tdlandtrust.org/
We can certainly see how having the land around the lake protected from development is important. We can understand that the various interests now controlling the lake might want to regroup a little before letting everyone run free.
We also understand that aquatic invasive species MIGHT be a risk to the lake. That risk is compounded by boat trailers and boats. Currently, it is not possible to inspect and decontaminate all boats entering the lake. It is also somewhat true that motors increase turbidity in lakes.
However, we’d like to see more evidence that the possibility of AIS or other sources of pollution are significant enough to warrant the kinds of use prohibition which now seem likely.
To be blunt, we’d like to see evidence that there is more going on here than just urbanites wanting their "muir moment".
Urban people tend to idealize places like Independence Lake. A Nature Conservancy spokesperson is quoted as saying
"With no motors, you also get a nice serene lake. We learned that there are very few Sierra lakes where you can drive up and not hear a motorboat, so you will have a different experience here, quiet, just nature. We think we will serve many uses and have even a more positive user experience."
Positive for whom? Urbanites imagine mystic primal connections, and need to have everything just so for their fantasy to function. An old geezer putting across the lake leaving a trail of 2 cycle smoke and a 100 yard sheen of oil isn’t part of it, and that we can understand, but what about the same geezer in an electric boat? If it isn’t possible to inspect and decontaminate all boats going in, then allow people "entry days" when they can be inspected, and allow them to leave their boats at the lake in a secured area. No one should want to see ski boats on Independence, it isn’t that kind of lake, and there are warmer lakes for that. But that doesn’t mean no motors at all.
Likewise, people need to be able to drive to the lake. People with kids, people who don’t walk, people with special needs must be allowed to share in the lake.
The takeover by TNC should mean more public investment, and more public use, not less. One thing is for certain: the generations of locals who have used the lake shouldn’t have to give up their use for someone to have a "serene" moment.
Let’s see some compromise in Independence Lake, something that makes it a "positive experience" for those who have traditionally used the lake.
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