Washoe County to look into public/private Tahoe land swap | SierraSun.com

Washoe County to look into public/private Tahoe land swap

Staff report

This sign adorns the entrance to the 8-foot-wide strip of county-owned land at Somers Loop in Crystal Bay that offers public access to Lake Tahoe.

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The Washoe County Commission unanimously voted May 13 for staff to investigate a potential public/private land swap in Incline Village and Crystal Bay.

Washoe County would get a 16.5-acre piece of private land currently owned by Ponderosa Ranch, according to the proposal. On that land is the historic Bull Wheel monument and an extension of the Flume Trail.

In return, an 8-foot-wide strip of county-owned land and an adjoining roadway stub in Crystal Bay would be deeded to Nevada Pacific Development Corporation.

The strip — located between two private residences at 61 and 44 Somers Loop — extends from Somers Loop, roughly a quarter-mile south of Crystal Drive, down to Lake Tahoe's shore.

Nevada Pacific Development Corporation owns both residences. Billionaire businessman David Duffield, founder of Workday and Peoplesoft, owns Ponderosa Ranch and is president of NPDC.

The county permanently closed the beach access trail 7 years ago and has deemed it unsafe.

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Project proponents say making the 16.5 acres located near Tunnel Creek public would help forever preserve the Bull Wheel, which was used to hoist lumber up the mountain to the flume for the mines in Virginia City in the 1880s.

Further, it would extend public access to the portion of the Flume Trail that falls on private land. The Flume is annually hiked and biked by thousands of residents and visitors.

The move has drawn criticism from conservation groups and residents in Crystal Bay, however, who say their rights to public lake access would be stripped.

There is no timeline as to when the issue will return to the county commission.