USFS recommends Sagehen Creek protection | SierraSun.com
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USFS recommends Sagehen Creek protection

TIM OMARZU, Sun News Service

Two remote Nevada County streams were singled out in a U.S. Forest Service study to see which waters in the Truckee River drainage deserve federal Wild and Scenic status.

The designation prohibits dam-building and preserves streams in their existing state.

An 8-mile section of Sagehen Creek, about 6 miles north of Truckee, was recommended for federal Wild and Scenic river designation in the study, released last week.

Upper Independence Creek, home to a self-sustaining population of federally threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout, should be designated as a “special-interest area,” the report recommends.

A third stream outside of the county, the headwaters of the Upper Truckee River, south of Lake Tahoe, should get federal recognition as a “wild” river, the report said.

Wild rivers are generally only accessible by trail, while scenic rivers are accessible by road.

All the streams have the “outstandingly remarkable” features necessary for a Wild and Scenic River, which includes majestic waters like the Colorado as it passes through the Grand Canyon, said Pete Brost, public service officer for the Tahoe National Forest.

The proposed streams would add to the “strength and diversity of the national system,” Brost said.

They’re also unlikely to cause much controversy, at least compared to five other streams that were studied, but didn’t make the cut.

“Significant concern was expressed by local landowners over the possible effects of designation on private-property rights,” the reads the study, which evaluated eight creeks in the Truckee River drainage.

However, two of the streams proposed for special recognition – Sagehen Creek and the Upper Truckee River – flow entirely on Tahoe National Forest land. Only 300 feet of Upper Independence Creek flows through private land; the rest is on the TNF.

There is no zoning or regulation of private land under the Wild and Scenic River system, federal officials stress.

There is no opposition from local government for special recognition for the three streams, according to the report. In fact, the Town of Truckee supported listing Sagehen and Independence creeks.

“Issue-wise, this was not a very big deal,” Brost said.

Other streams in the study that didn’t make the cut crossed more private land and faced opposition from local governments. Sierra County opposed federal listing for the Little Truckee River and Perazzo Creek. Truckee opposed listing for the Truckee River, Alder Creek and Coldstream Creek.

Management of the listed streams shouldn’t change too much, Brost said.

Timber output would be reduced by 118,000 board feet annually if Sagehen Creek gets recognition. Logging wouldn’t be affected at all near Independence Creek, which already is managed to protect Lahontan cutthroat trout, the study says.

The Forest Service recommendations to list the three streams in the Truckee River drainage still need approval from Congress before they would take effect.

Sierra Sun E-mail: sun@tahoe.com

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