Readers write: Habitat protection | SierraSun.com

Readers write: Habitat protection

J.S Grandfield,
Wildlife Biologist and 22-year Agate Bay Resident

I just drove by Snow Creek in Tahoe Vista and was very disappointed to see what appeared to be a school group of 20-25 people. While I appreciate the need to educate children about the environment, it seems logical to also teach them how to respect the environment as well.

There are numerous restored public lands in the Tahoe Basin. Many have been designed to provide recreation and access opportunities and thus can accommodate such use. Other lands have been restored for water quality purposes and habitat, not public use. Snow Creek is the latter. There is public access to the beach about 300 feet west of the Snow Creek stream environment zone at Moon Dunes but incursion into the wetlands north of Highway 28 and the stream environment zone south toward the lake should be discouraged.

Wetland/meadow complexes and the mouths of tributaries are critical habitat for both native flora and fauna. With only 25 percent of such areas remaining in the Sierra Nevada, protection of these areas should be of utmost concern. Indeed, many of the TRPA Thresholds listed in the Environmental Improvement Program target such areas for waterfowl, bald eagle, osprey, fisheries, amphibians, aquatic invertebrates and Tahoe Yellow Cress threshold evaluation.

Please enjoy these areas from the fringes. Observe the sensitive species found there with binoculars/bird scopes or go to an environmental educational facility, there are many in the Basin, that are set up to provide hands on experience/knowledge of these species. There is a reason these species are referred to as “sensitive”. It is because they are severely disturbed by human presence. So, the familiar phrase heard by wildlife biologists from the public in the Basin, “I want to see the sensitive species close up” is nonsensical. If you want to see them “close up” you will only be able to do so for a very short period of time and they will either perish or relocate … no one will ever see them around here again.

So people, please BE RESPONSIBLE, utilize public recreation areas and leave the restoration areas undisturbed. And educators, PLEASE teach the kids, and everyone else, to respect these areas and love them from afar instead of trampling them into submission. A world where only one animal exists, the human variety, seems like a lonely place to live and a sad legacy for generations to come. Imagine ONLY being able to see these wonders of nature in a museum or encyclopedia in the future. What a shame that would be.