Save the Martis Valley
October 18, 2001
Forty-some odd years ago, I took my young sons fishing over in the lake in Martis Valley. I had a yellow humpy fly that had worked well in the Truckee River, and it deserved to be tried somewhere else. I had never seen anyone fishing in the little lake, which seemed to me to be a plus.
We were on the lake by 6 a.m. and we beat the water pretty good. By 10, none of us had a bite. We didn’t know there weren’t any fish in it. Disgusted, we went over to the Truckee and caught limits of rainbows.
Every summer at that time I rented a house in Tahoe for the family at Kings Beach. Mr. and Mrs. King were alive at that time and it was a nice little village. Mornings, if not at the Truckee, the boys and I were in my boat on Tahoe. We’d top line for 18-inch rainbows or troll a silver spoon 12 to 15 feet deep to get some heavy German browns.
For nightlife, we adults had the great and long-gone North Shore Club at Crystal Bay, the Sinatra Rat Pack entertainment at Cal Neva or a show at the Bal Tabaran. What with gambling and feasting at those places or at the late and famous Bonanza Inn over in Carson City, we had all the social life we could handle.
The lake’s North Shore wasn’t crowded then. Truckee was a small town and the road (now Hwy. 267) to Kings Beach was dirt and gravel. Martis Valley was a vast, beautiful area, unblemished by buildings of any kind. It was pristine compared to now and especially compared to what it’s headed for.
Developers are seeking to change Martis Valley into a high-class housing neighborhood of one- to three-acre lots, complete with shopping centers, fire departments, schools and acres of blacktop.
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I can’t help but remember Santa Clara Valley 60 years ago when it was verdant with fruit trees. The orchards ran for miles in all directions. Invasions of developers made that beautiful Santa Clara Valley into an ordinary ugly bedroom community. Never again would it have the wildlife, the green fruit trees, and the smells of the countryside or produce that unique feeling of country freedom. It’s gone the way of Truckee Meadows, the beautiful beaches of Manhattan, Redondo, Hermosa, and Santa Monica, where high population growth has turned most of the wonderful countryside areas into asphalt jungles.
I can’t help but worry about Martis Valley. There aren’t any places left near here like it. Will it go the way of all the other gorgeous countrysides we’ve seen spoiled by urban sprawl?
In their wisdom, will the planning commissioners, or the county supervisors, perhaps with inducements of large donations to their campaign funds, allow beautiful Martis Valley to be compromised? Tahoe Regional Planning Agency powers don’t extend to the Truckee area.
Can the efforts of the Sierra Club and other concerned citizens be as influential as those of the developers?
The valley hasn’t yet been badly damaged by the construction and changes developers have so far made there.
If enough people care about it now, there’s still a chance that its natural character can partially survive. But lots of people have to show their concern, stand up, be heard and object about large-scale development. They need to show politicians they care! They have to make noises that it’s important to protect Martis Valley and give it the preservation it so richly deserves.
Mr. Lobner is a columnist for Valley Community Newspapers and several other publications. He is a 40 year part time resident of Lake Tahoe, a retired attorney, and has been active in civic and political affairs.