Alpine lake above Tahoe being sold to Forest Service |

Alpine lake above Tahoe being sold to Forest Service

INCLINE VILLAGE (AP) ” A scenic alpine lake and private enclave overlooking Lake Tahoe that once served as a playground for the rich and famous should be in the public’s hands this summer under a compromise announced today.

The Incline Lake Corp. will receive a deposit of at least $46 million for 777 acres, including Incline Lake, atop a forested ridge of the Sierra between Lake Tahoe and Reno, the current landowners said.

A trial will be held in federal court to determine whether additional compensation is justified under what was described as a “friendly condemnation” proceeding, the Reno Gazette-Journal first reported on it’s Web site Wednesday afternoon.

Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., suggested the compromise. It was arranged after the landowners and U.S. Forest Service failed to agree on value of the property.

“Today marks another historic milestone in our efforts to preserve the Lake Tahoe Basin,” Ensign said in a statement.

“The Incline Lake property is truly spectacular, including some of the most breathtaking views in Nevada that will now be protected for all of the public to enjoy. Its an awe-inspiring site, and through this agreement we are ensuring that this oasis will be enjoyed by our grandchildren and generations beyond,” he said.

The Incline Lake Corp. originally asked for $75 million but federal appraisals put the value as “tens of millions” less than that, said Glen Williams of Terra Firma Associates, representing the owners.

The scenic property should transfer to the U.S. Forest Service sometime in June, although the exact value of the land won’t be determined for perhaps a year, Williams said.

The lake will remain closed to the public until next year while all improvements, including buildings, foundations, water tanks and utilities, are removed, landowners said.

“It’s been a rough haul,” Williams said as of the four years of negotiations leading to the agreement.

Norm Nash, president of Incline Lake Corp., cited a “tremendous development potential” for the land, which will instead become scenic national forest.

“As much as I am pleased the property will be preserved for the public, part of me will always see a great development opportunity lost,” Nash said.

Since 1939, when the property was acquired from George Whittell by Norman Biltz, the “Duke of Nevada,” Incline Lake has generally been off-limits to the public.

Past visitors included some of Nevada’s most prominent personalities, like philanthropist and dairy king Max Fleischmann, longtime U.S. Sen. Patrick McCarran and Moya Lear, philanthropist and wife to Bill Lear, creator of the Lear jet.

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