IndependenceLake Letters

Sierra County Board of Supervisors
February 14, 2011
RE:  Independence Lake

My family and I have lived in the Truckee area for over 35 years.  Enjoying the many open spaces that living in the mountains have to offer.

We, as well as the general public have enjoyed Independence Lake and Jackson Meadows areas.  I have met people in these areas from all over the world.  Not just the locals have used and enjoyed the openness access to these areas.  Sports that take place in this area can be from being on a motorized driven vehicle to one’s own feet. Snowmobiling / Cross county Skiing in the winter.  Summer brings those who enjoy camping, fishing, hiking, boating and jeeping to the area. 

Putting up gates and limiting the access to these areas by the public is definitely an unjust act. Many generations of families have been able to frequently use these precious resources.  If we start now, locking away the history and the beauty of our area.
 How will we teach future generations (tax payers) to respect what nature offers to everyone?   Present time or a hundred years down the road, what will be the message we are sending if everything is locked away. Respecting nature needs to be taught not locked away!

The county maintained roads leading to Independence Lake; which is a state owned waterway should be able to be accessed by everyone.  Land locking it so that a select few can access the water is not something that I (my family) would like to see happen. There should be access for anyone and everyone to enjoy.  Whether they use a motor vehicle or hike into such areas it is not up to us to say they are not allowed.  Taxpayer’s money is being used and that means one should not discriminate about the way one access’s the lands/waterways by placing gates or other obstructions.

Thank you for your time.

Ryan Holland
Truckee, CA  96162

Date: Mon, Feb 14, 2011 at 1:21 PM
Subject: Letter from Fullmer Kids

My name is Ashlynn Fullmer and I am writing this letter on behalf of myself and my brothers.  We have been up to Independence Lake with my grandparents.  Part of the fantastic time that we had was when our grandfather took us out in his fishing boat.  My youngest brother caught his first fish there.  It was an experience he will never forget.  We asked if we could go back camping and fishing this last summer and we were very disappointed to find out that we wouldn't be able to do that because the Nature Conservancy had bought the land around the lake and they had different rules.  We don't understand why they had to do that.  We all followed our grandparents' rules and even picked up trash that other people had left behind.   We would all like to be able to go back to Independence Lake to camp, fish, have cook-outs and play in the water again.  We hope this letter will help with that decision.  Thank you for your time and consideration.
The Fullmer Children
Ashlynn 15,  Austin  12,  Alec  10,  Alijah  6

Sierra County Board of Supervisors

February 12, 2011

Re:    Closure of Existing Public Access to Independence Lake

Dear Sirs:

Independence Lake has been open to public access for many years.  My family, for more than seventy (70) years along with many others have boated, fished, and enjoyed the beauty and the wildlife that call this high alpine lake home.  Access has been on public roads.  Starting from Truckee, State Highway 89 north to Jackson Meadows Road (U.S. Forest Service Road) to Independence Lake Road (Sierra County Road), to the dam and boat launch at Independence Lake.

The new owners of the land surrounding Independence Lake (using public funds) have restricted public access to the existing boat launch.

I am a senior citizen over sixty-five (65) years of age.  Under boating requirements of the new owners, I am required to park and pack all of my boating equipment over a quarter of a mile from the parking area to the Independence Lake water’s edge.  I am not allowed any form of gas or electric power.  At this point, it is my assumption that my options for boating are canoe, kayak, or inflatable raft.

Let’s put this large beautiful lake in perspective.  It is not “On Golden Pond,” it is very cold.  It is two and a half miles ling and close to one half mile wide with a strong pattern of westerly winds most afternoons.   Waves three feet and up are not uncommon.

For this senior citizen, the unrealistic hoops I must go through to fish, boating, and enjoy this special place are not only dangerous, they are to the point of harassment.

Sierra County has allowed placement of a locked gate terminating public access that has existed for decades.  The new owners of the land surrounding Independence Lake (Please note they do not own Independence Lake!) are changing, at will, boating regulations, seasonal fishing closures – where is the State of California, Sierra County, and the California Fish and Game Department?  Is the public going to be allowed input on the use of Independence Lake?

In conclusion, the County Board of Supervisors and the new owner of the property surrounding Independence Lake are discriminating against the civil rights of any users unable to comply physically with these unrealistic access requirements.  


Jimmy Osburn
Pahrump, NV 89048

Sierra County Board of Supervisors

February 6, 2011
Re:    Independence Lake, Independence Lake Roads 350 and 351
Dear Sirs:
I am writing this letter to express my extreme disappointment that your Sierra County Roads have illegal gates across them and that I cannot launch a boat on or camp at Independence Lake.  Independence Lake Road is a road that I have traveled since 1958, from Sagehen Summit and the Truckee area.  At no time in my life have I been locked out of Independence Lake – not until last year when The Nature Conservancy installed a huge, intimidating steel gate across your Road.
Since I was a child at 6 years old, I have fished and camped at all the Sierra lakes, including Independence Lake.  I remember that we would leave our home in Truckee the day after school let out and camp at Independence until two days before we had to go back to school.  My childhood summers were spent at that lake. 
When The Nature Conservancy bought the land around Independence with my tax dollars, I thought that was a great thing – the area would be protected and we would enjoy our free access that I have had for over 53 years.  But with your help, they have been able to keep folks like me out of Independence Lake.  Aren’t you, as elected officials, supposed to protect our rights as citizens?  Didn’t we give you the money in years past to build and maintain those roads to the lake?  And you have just given them to The Nature Conservancy?  Isn’t that a gifting of public assets?  If it is, you are in very dire straights, because that is illegal. 
I am writing this letter with the demand that you will fully reclaim your Roads 350 and 351, and that you will insist on unrestricted public access to Independence Lake via those roads.  Since before 1958, both of those roads have gone TO the lake.  Not just near the lake – TO the lake, with unrestricted access.

Mrs. Kathleen Johnson
Reno, NV  89506
Cc: California State Lands Commission

January 27, 2011

Ken Osburn
Loyalton, Ca 96118

Dear Sierra County Board of Supervisors,
I write this letter with disappointment as a Sierra County Resident who is extremely frustrated in the sequence of events regarding Independence Lake, specifically the road issue.  At the age of 71 years old I am unable to enjoy the lake as I did two years ago which was consistent with the 69 years prior.  I was young and don’t remember the first time my father (a former Sierra County resident) took me to Independence Lake but do fondly remember summers on the lake with my brothers and sisters.  I raised my four children on all the local lakes including Independence.  This year I had the misfortune of being turned around with a motorboat for the first time in my life, I never even had an opportunity to fill out a survey.
Where did we go wrong?  What did we miss?  Sierra Pacific Power owned the land around the lake for as long as I can remember and I don’t recall any access problems.   I traveled to the lake via two roads, the access from Sierra Valley (Rd 350) and as a young man from Truckee on county road 351.  The Truckee route has changed but the old road bed is still there and it appears Sierra County is still considering it a maintained road, making it eligible for state and federal funds.  According to a Sierra County source at the Water Committee Meeting last month, this road has been abandoned as part of a 1962 letter and rerouted without following procedure.  The same source claims that neither road actually went all the way to the lake.  I traveled both of these roads all my life and accessed the lake to the water’s edge.  For those who have seen the maps and their supporting documents it seems rather clear that Sierra County owns both of those roads all the way to the lake.  What about the same county documents that state “……providing access to Independence Lake” and the map showing the roads connecting at the lake?
The Nature Conservancy has no business putting a gate on either road let alone locking them, there have been gates on both of these roads for many years.  The only gate I ever found locked was the gate that divided the campground from the boat ramp.  During wet times Sierra Pacific Power did deny access to the campsites and perhaps during high fire danger but never denied access to the lake which is owned by us the tax payers.  Invasive species has been the big buzz but was ignored this last year by the new property owners; they claim the locked gates keep boats and trailers out fearing invasive species.   What about all the other boats that were on the lake this year?   No inspections?  Need I even remind you that the disabled and older folks can’t walk to the lake via their new parking area?  I was one of those people that were denied access because I don’t own a canoe or kayak, nor will I.  I own a boat with a motor and can’t row any boat, especially on a lake that big.   This lake is subject to sudden volatile weather changes and is located near 7000 feet making its water fatal to a capsized paddler.  What was wrong with the old level, gravel and larger parking area with boat ramp?  Why don’t these “Do gooders” inspect boats and let folks like me fish the way I have for 69 years?  I don’t much appreciate someone shutting me out of a lake that is opened year round for fishing with my own money.
Let’s talk money.  Some are calling this land around the lake “Private Property”.  You have got to be kidding.  I was informed that less than 1.5% of the $15 million purchase price was actually funded by The Nature Conservancy.  This giant conservation group secured the land using our tax dollars, some say close to $20 million dollars were available and is still being used for a remodel and operating costs.  Can you believe our state and federal government spend money today on this?  How about spending a little on an invasive program, if this is what it is all about?  No, it is easier to just kick out the locals.  What about rezoning of the land?   Watch these conservation groups gobble up land in our county and then rezone exempting it from taxes, there goes Sierra County’s tax base.   How much open space do we/did we have?
I hope you listen as I have to the citizen group “Friends of Independence Lake” spearheaded by my nephew  Kenny Osburn and Robert Haug because they have done their homework; they have a great legal team that they have paid out of their pockets to defend what is right.  Is this about invasive species or simply a conservation group’s view regarding quiet recreation?  How many times is this conservation group going to tell us “Go find another lake put your motor boat on”?  It is very depressing that Sierra County did not step up for their taxpayers and defend a locked gate on a county road.  How long is this going to continue, the gate is still locked today on an admitted county right of way?  We live in this community because of its small hometown feel and expect to have our voices heard, this is my voice “Please open the road to Independence Lake and don’t be pushed around by a conservation group with their own agenda, defend what the public owns and has a right to”.  Thank you for your consideration.


Ken Osburn
Sierra County Resident

Mrs. Nancy Lopez
Ripon, CA 95366

January 27, 2011
To:  The Board of Supervisors Sierra County & The California State Land Commission,

For 49 years, I have had the pleasure of going to Independence Lake. My father first visited the lake in the early 1920’s. My daughter has been going to Independence Lake since she was 4 months old in 1976, and my Grandson who will be 5 this year.  We have enjoyed four generations of camping, picnicking, fishing, motor boating, hiking and making new friends from all over California and Nevada.  You could access the lake front beach area by vehicle and you could launch your boat and enjoy a peaceful day on the water.
Since the Nature Conservancy has purchased the lake all that has come to an end.  I am furious that my tax dollars went towards the purchase of this lake and now my access is severely restricted.  Recently I was diagnosed with Leukemia.  I am extremely upset that I may never be able to walk to the shore to sit and put my feet in the icy waters and enjoy all the natural beauty that this lake has to offer.  The Nature Conservancy has literally blocked the Sierra County road denying access to the public. Historically this road has been used for countless years providing lake front access for all.  You are now greeted with locked gates and diverted to a new road and parking area away from the lake.  There is no access for the handicap, disabled or for anyone with any type of limitations. This is not legal.
I feel so betrayed by the Nature Conservancy.  They lied to the public when they sent their representatives     to interview visitors to the lake prior to their purchase.  They stated that everything was going to be left “as-is” and the public would be able to enjoy the lake as they did in the past.  They stated they wanted to preserve the lake from commercial development, which I do support 100%.  However, no one ever thought that the very people who enjoyed and respected this lake for almost a century would be grouped into that category.  The Conservancy has done more devastation to the natural habitat then in the century that my family has been coming to this lake.  What makes matters even worst is that they are in the process of not only controlling the land around Independence Lake but also the surrounding private properties and other lakes in the area.  If allowed to continue the only people that will be able to enjoy this entire area will be those in the higher echelon in the Conservancy or their rich supporters.
In closing, the Historical access to Independence Lake needs to be restored to the public and protected for all future generations.

Mrs. Nancy Lopez


Sierra County Board of Supervisors

Re: Independence Lake

To Whom it Might Concern,

Several months ago I appeared before you to express my concerns regarding all of the changes taking place at Independence Lake, from change in ownership of the Land previously owned by NvEnergy, to the unentitled control and restrictions that the Nature Conservancy and their friends are trying to demonstrate.

This group, whoever they really are, finagled enough money from public funds to purchase the “Land” around Independence Lake. They cannot own the bed of the lake since it belongs to the people of the State of California and the water belongs to TMWA, the water purveyor for the Reno/Sparks area. I have searched and been unable to find anywhere, a document giving ownership or control from either of these entities to any group or individual.

This group, whoever it really is, has also restricted access to the lake, which has a history of over 100 years of being used freely by the general public. A general public that has historically taken care to keep the area and the lake in a beautifully attractive area to visit. Accessible to all who wished to visit without restrictions that require everyone to hike a substantial distance and restricts access to those with handicaps or senior in age.

My first trip to Independence Lake was the summer of 1969. I have spent time up there every year since, with the exception of this past summer. Because of back surgery last year I was unable to walk anymore then a couple of hundred feet and definitely unable to walk over rocky ground and step of logs and bushes. I might add that just a couple of months ago I had a second back surgery and this year I will be 73 years old. It bothers me that this group that has assumed ownership, as if it is their own, is so intent on keeping me out of Independence Lake. Over the years I have had talks with them, at least those connected with the Nature Conservancy in Reno and they assured me, time and time again, that they would keep the lake open and accessible in a manner commensurate with the history of the lake. None of the actions that I am seeing gives any indication that this is even remotely the truth.

At the time I spoke before the Supervisors last year, one of your members ask “Why should we be concerned about this?” and I brought to your attention the lose of revenues because this land was taken off of the tax rolls and all of the visitors/shoppers that use to come to enjoy the lake would not come anymore. I also mention that there is documentation that this group plans to raise $400 million + to continue to buy land and take it off of your tax roll. Maybe your budget is plush enough that this is not a concern to you??? However, I believe their efforts to purchase land at Lake of the Woods and Weber Lake will have an even greater effect on your budget in the future.

 I don’t believe your citizens (Voters) had this in mind when they elected you to look after their interest.

Please, please do not ignore this issue and let it become the 900 pound gorilla in you community. It makes no difference that the people visiting Independence Lake are from California or Nevada or New York City; their dollars all spend the same. We love to come to your area and we do spend money every time we are there. If the beauty and atmosphere of Independence Lake, Lake of the Woods and Weber Lake are no longer accessible then we will find other places to go.

Tom Young
Just a retired private citizen
Reno Nevada

To:  County Board of Supervisors
February 5, 2011
I would like to see Independence Lake re-opened to the use of camping and boating.  I would like to see the disabled have access to the lake again.   My daughter who is disabled has visited, camped and fished Independence Lake from the age of 5 years old (currently 26 yrs. old),  this has given our entire family many years of both overnight and day.  
 We have taken the extra effort to drive in during the summer months and used our 14 foot aluminum boat for family fun.  The access although not great still allowed us to use the lake and surrounding area.  
 Lake access at the water release area is needed for current and future use for people with disabilities.

CC:    California State Lands Commission

Sierra County Board of Supervisors:
I am a member of the Nature Conservancy and a long time user of Independence Lake. I have camped and fished the lake for 35 years. In all of that time I can say that I never saw anything close to overuse  due to the difficulty getting there and the basic amenities. It was a great place to go on busy weekends for that reason as well.
I am glad to see the Conservancy get the lake before developers did as Disney tried in the 70’s. However I am distressed that I can no longer camp there nor use my small fishing boat on the lake. I am writing in hopes of encouraging a change in the Conservancy’s policy’s for Independence Lake. I would like to see drive in camping allowed again as well as small boats (14’ or less with 4cycle 15 hp or less engines). They have a cleaning station for boats already and I would be glad to be a volunteer to man the boat ramp to check for the bad things they are worried about.
While the Conservancy is doing a great job of saving the planet, I believe they need to balance that with responsible and accommodating public usage.
Michael B. Bussio
Reno, NV 89501
CC:    California State Lands

Sierra County Board of Supervisors:
February 1, 2011

I would like to make a comment about public access to Independence Lake.  It is such a beautiful area, it is unthinkable that the public would be denied enjoying it.  As fabulous as Lake Tahoe is, there is no part of it cut off disallowing people to bask in its glory.  Please consider letting everyone take pleasure in this natural beauty.
Jan Parker
American Air Racing
Reno, NV  89506-1209

CC:    California Lands Commission

Feb. 5, 2011
Attn:  Sierra County Board of Supervisors

I have been vacationing at Independence Lake for the last 14 yrs.  The last 5 years I have been disability retired.  I was surprised when last year I couldn't get to the lake because the county road was illegally closed.  Being disabled I could not walk past the gate to the lake and back again.  
Certainly not with my camping and fishing equipment.
                                                                                                               Philip W. Phariss

Cc:    California State Lands Commission
Sharon and Rachael Lewis
Reno, NV 89513

February 2, 2011

To: The Board of Supervisors
Re: Independence Lake

My name is Rachael Lewis and I am currently 40 years old. When I was three weeks old, my parents took me to Independence Lake. My parents, my brother, my aunt and uncle and my cousins were all there too. My family couldn’t believe what a happy baby I was, I was at Independence Lake. Every year for the next 39 years, Independence Lake is where we went for our family vacations. I looked forward all year to that one week in the mountains away from the city. Independence Lake holds an extremely special place in my heart, with memories so priceless it would take me hours upon hours to describe, so I can say with great enthusiasm that it is probably my number one favorite spot in the whole world.

I grew up at Independence Lake from toddler to teens to motherhood. I even had my wedding at Independence, I have never been to a more beautiful and meaningful wedding before or after. Independence Lake is where I could be myself, meet wonderful people, commune with nature, play in the lake, cry, laugh and sing around the camp fires and go fishing with my Dad and have conversations with him that we never would have had without Independence Lake.

My father began going to Independence Lake with his father and mother in 1950 and when he met my mom in 1966, began taking her. My father passed away suddenly in 2004 and I have made it a point to make sure that I fulfill my mothers requests “Take me to Independence Lake”. Since my father’s death, I have continued going with my son and mother to what until now has been untainted.

My mother became ill in 2008 and is confined to a wheel chair and until last year I was still able to take her to her favorite places to look out on the Lake. I cannot describe how sickening and saddened I was to hear last year that not only could we not get in, but the road had been changed so there was no lake access. How do I take my mom to see her favorite spots before she dies? How will I share this lake with my son and his children and have them experience the magic of Independence Lake? Where will I find my Independence without Independence Lake? It brings tears to my eyes writing this. Please, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Keep Independence open to those who have enjoyed and nourished it for decades and for the future generations who it will be passed down to.

Sincerely and Respectfully,

Rachael & Sharon Lewis

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