IL Access Poll

The Independence Lake Access Poll 103110

A note up front: we usually run a poll for a week to allow everyone a chance to take it, but because we have the elections upcoming, we only opened this poll for about 3 ½  days.  
Still, there was a good response rate, and a lot of great comments.

It’s important to note that we have no way to tie the comments to the vote, only the question.  It is possible for someone to vote no, but answer more positively, and vice versa.  

First, the numbers.

Should the Sierra County Board of Supervisors direct staff to regain control over all public roads leading to or around Independence Lake?

As can be seen, 44 of 52 respondents, or about 85%, said yes, the county should indeed try to secure public access on county roads around IL.  Eight people said no.

As always, though, the most interesting information is in the comments.  

For question 1, there is a clear consensus that the County needs to own and control county roads.  

“Yes” Answers:

  • Without a doubt, both the lake and the access are owned by the public. Even if it was private, our tax dollars bought it!!
  • We are taxpayers who pay taxes to the county. Part of our taxes are to secure and maintain these roads.
  • Yes. TNC is the Microsoft of land gobbling monsters.
  • That’s why we have a board of supervisors. To stick up for "we" the people.
  • Yes!!! Our tax dollars are paying for the road. Everyone should have unlimited access to a public waterway!
  • If the county decides to not insist the county road be open to the public as a whole,they should not only abandon the road they should re claim, remove the roadbed so as not to give public property to a private entity.
  • Our Supervisors are voted in place to do our bidding, as citizens. we EXPECT them to protect our assets and our access!
  • Like the questions says,"public roads". So what is the question?
  • It's begining to look like the TNC has paid the board to drag this issue out until next summer. maybe the next board can do their job and open all access to the lake .
  • The county has control over county roads.
  • The Board works for us, not the other way around.
“No” Answers:
  • The Lake needs a chance to recover. It is far more "motorized" that what is suggested in the provided article.
Many of the comments make note of the fact that the roads belong to the people of Sierra County and the supervisors should maintain control over them.  As can be seen, several consider it a “given” that the county will secure those roads.

However, the one dissenter had a significant point, one that, in the minds of many, transcends the issue of public ownership and enters the issue of public good.  The Prospect doesn’t know how many motorboats used the lake in 2008.  There wasn’t space for the responder to go farther into the point: what kind of degradation took place, how did motor boats contribute, what kind of recovery period is necessary, should all boats be banned?  These are important questions that we’ll try to get more information on.

Should the Sierra County Board of Supervisors direct staff to explore all avenues for the county help restore traditional (pre-TNC) uses to Independence Lake?

The support is a little softer on this, with 43 voting “yes” and 9 voting “no”.  The comments are equally informative for this question:

Yes Remarks:

  • Especially after so many Sierra County residents used it that way, these people never hurt this lake and care for it the most.
  • With limitations on lake usage. That is, I don't think there was an issue with 2-stroke jet skis even 15 years ago. Promote responsible, reasonable use with an emphasis on preservation.
  • The way that made everyone happy! and didnt deny and control access to a state owned navigable lake!!! Sounds good to me!
  • It's their duty
  • The Supervisors are our representatives, and as such, we expect them to protect our assets, our access, and our communities. If they don't, then we vote them out of office.
  • Doesn't "Historical" mean anything any more, especially in a place like Sierra County?
  • Fishing has never hurt Independence Lake. People have done it since the early 1900s.
No Remarks
  • Things change, traditional isn't always the best. Big gas guzzling cars use to be traditional, but now we know better...
  • This is now Private property. I object to the idea that you can pick and chose which properties to infringe upon.

This time some of the answers talked about the importance, or non-Importance, of history and tradition.  It presents a significant pubic discussion: do we want a value of maintaining historical and traditional uses, or a value of change and “greater good” meaning, unfortunately, someone else’s good.  Logic would suggest we look at the facts in individual instances and make decisions on individual cases, like Independence Lake.  The population of California has grown, but the world has not.  

Some remarks addressed that past fishing has not hurt the lake.  A “no” answer to question 1, above seems to suggest there has been damage done.  Again, we’ll try to find out some information, though it won’t be easy, because the California Department of Fish and Game is such a distant and opaque organization, and other sources are doubtable.  

One comment focused on land rights, but is TNC land actually private property?  It was purchased with pubic money with the expectation that it would be held in public trust; not the same, perhaps, as other kinds of “private” property.

Clearly most respondents feel the Sierra County Board of Supervisors should take an active role in restoring public roads and access to the lake, though about 15% disagree.

How many of those responding live in Sierra County?

Do you live or own property in Sierra County?

As we can see, about 56% do live in the county, but a sizeable number of people who care about Independence Lake don’t.

Again, the comments are important.

Residence Question Comments: (some personal information was removed from some responses)

  • Plumas county
  • No but I USED to fish Independence Lake.
  • Yes, I  pay a lot of taxes in Sierra County.
  • No I don't, and now I know why. The TNC might take it away from me!
  • My Husband and I were born in Reno and Raised in Truckee and also raised our son in Truckee and spent alot of time Snowmobiling around Independence. Also a few Summer trips there. My husband spent alot of time as a Child at Independence Lake with his Dad…
  • yep, I do
  • And I pay taxes.
  • Truckee, CA residence.
  • Nevada County, but frequent the Independence Lake area.
  • Sierra County needs to take a stand and protect the county's property from any take overs from private organizations. Not only are we talking about Independence Lake they are also trying to take control of Weber Lake and the surrounding areas. The County must stand up and protect what is theirs and protect the right of way for all people.

The Prospect didn’t intend to create a mandate for the Board on this issue: we need to trust our elected officials to weigh all the options before choosing a course of action.  Still, it’s a little more clear how some county residents and landowners, and users from neighboring counties and out of the area, too, feel about access to Independence Lake.  
Maybe it’s information for The Nature Conservancy, too, though we know a handful of yokels won’t influence this gigantic Fairy Godmother.

Thanks to everyone who shared their opinion, and their comments.  
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