Year in review: 2008 in Truckee-Tahoe | SierraSun.com

Year in review: 2008 in Truckee-Tahoe

Greyson Howard
Sierra Sun

The year 2008 climbed to an optimistic high marked by the election of the country’s first black president and dropped into an economic downturn that may rival the nation’s worst.

Nationally, voters asked for change and new leadership with Barack Obama and an increasing number of Democrats in Congress, while California residents pulled back on the reigns, putting an end to gay marrage.

An economic depression spawned bailouts nationally and belt-tightening locally, where residents, businesses and local goverment had to cut back, bunker down, and hope for the best.

Construction ” normally an economic behemoth for Truckee and the Basin ” shrunk to a mere fraction of its former self.

And yet big development soldiered on through public vetting despite economic worries, perhaps signaling faith in Sierra’s everlasting appeal.

Just as surely resistance sprung up to projects that residents saw as too big or otherwise inapropriate, and neighbors were pitted against neighbors in Kings Beach over the proposal for three lanes versus four for their stretch of Highway 28.

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A collection of environmental groups and local governments once again teamed up this year just like last ” this time preserving a source of recreation for the community: the Ponderosa Golf Course.

And conservation made headway elsewhere, as the Truckee Donner Land Trust scooped up the rare sub-alpine Perazzo Meadows along the Little Truckee River, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger brought together both the public and private sectors to save as much as 100,000 acres of northern Sierra open space.

The nearby woods got an unlikely visit from Truckee High School’s mascot ” a wolverine ” not seen in the Sierra Nevada for nearly a century.

Bears didn’t find their way into town as much as in 2007, but one didn’t escape a poacher who took its gall bladder from its lifeless body along Highway 89 between Truckee and Tahoe city.

Snow started out with a bang in 2008, but trailed off into a whimper, leaving the region bone dry and setting up the northern Sierra for an unprecedented wildfire season and swiftly dropping lake levels.

Truckee, Tahoe, and much of the rest of the state lived under an oppressive pall of smoke for more than a month, the sunlight never brightening beyond a sickly orange pallor.

Water experts watched as melting snow failed to fill Lake Tahoe and other reservoirs, and waited to see just how low they would dip before snow replenished their stores.

Once again in the short days of winter, a Christmas storm brought relief to nervous ski resorts, retailers, and the region as a whole, but the white gold was tinged with tragedy, when an avalanche took one of Tahoe’s sons ” Randall Davis.

Still, fresh snow blanketed the region like a clean slate, businesses filled and people on the streets bustled through the holidays, all giving cause for optimism as we enter the new year.