Boats banned from passing buoy line in southeast Donner Lake |

Boats banned from passing buoy line in southeast Donner Lake

With new self-inspection requirements for boating on Donner Lake this summer already in place, the Truckee Town Council has revisited regulations regarding the lake, this time focusing on motorized watercraft in a popular swimming and paddling location.

During Tuesday’s Town Council meeting, an urgency ordinance was unanimously adopted prohibiting motorized vessels from passing the buoy line in the southeastern part of the lake, near its outlet and surrounded by Donner Memorial State Park.

“It’s sad that we’re losing that,” said Councilman Tony Commendatore during Tuesday’s meeting. “But after reflecting on … the increase in kayaks, and particularly stand-up paddleboards with kids and others swimming in that area, and the increase of usage of Donner Lake during Fourth of July and other times — it’s sad that we have to do this, but it makes a lot of sense.”

Commendatore added that the area is a traditional “swimming hole” along with being a wind-protected section of that side of the lake for boaters.

“The nice thing about the lagoon is that you can get into a protected area and it’s easier to control a boat,” said Commendatore. “It gets really windy down there, and you create a whole new bunch of problems, and safety becomes a bigger issue at the other end.”

California State Parks brought the issues to the town due to the area past the buoy line being very popular with swimmers and paddlers. State parks along with the Truckee Police Department also reportedly received complaints about unsafe operations of motorized watercraft in the area, according to information provided to the Truckee Town Council.

“The intent has always been to try to keep motorized boats out of there because there’s so many kayakers, and stand-up paddleboarders, and swimmers,” said Town Attorney Andrew Morris during Tuesday’s council meeting. “But there’s never actually been an enforceable way of citing people or keeping people out. It’s just been, well, we’re going to string up the buoy and hope for the best. So, state parks asked if we’d consider an ordinance to do that.”

During the course of reviewing Truckee’s boating ordinances, Morris said it became evident they needed to be streamlined and updated as the previous ordinance contained obsolete references like those pertaining to the Donner Lake Water Company.

“In looking at the state of our boating ordinances, I realized they were deeply weird and thought that we might as well do a little bit of housekeeping on the ordinances while we’re at it,” added Morris.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at or 530-550-2643.

Support Local Journalism


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.