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Tahoe group plays key planning role

One of the newer members of the Sierra Club’s Mother Lode Chapter, the Tahoe Area Group has become a behind-the-scenes player in the region’s development politics.

Formed in 1999, the Tahoe Area Group is one of 11 local groups in the Sierra Club’s Mother Lode Chapter, which spans 24 counties in the northern Sierra Nevada.

Less established than the Sierra Nevada Group on the western slopes, the Tahoe Area Group has focused on working with other conservation groups to mitigate the impacts of growth in the Tahoe region. Among the local chapter’s priorities have been the Martis Valley development, the Heavenly ski resort renovations, and the ongoing dispute over development on Donner Summit.



David Kean of Truckee became involved in the Tahoe Area Group’s efforts to preserve open space in the Martis Valley. Working with other groups, the local chapter adopted a strategy of supporting “reasonable development” on the west side of Martis Valley, but opposing any development east of Highway 267 in the heart of the alpine valley.

The Tahoe Area Group became one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit against Placer County that challenged the county’s environmental planning.



“We hired land-use planners, biologists and attorneys,” Kean said. “We won all the suits because we had the best science.”

In the negotiated settlement, the plaintiffs were promised $120 million in development fees over a 30-year period, money that has already been used toward the purchase price of Waddle Ranch on the east side of Martis Valley.

The victory furthered the Tahoe Area Group’s goal to create a wildlife corridor between the Granite Chief Wilderness near Squaw Valley to the Mount Rose Wilderness Area.

“In the end, the Martis Valley developer did the right thing,” Kean said. “They could have continued to fight us. Everyone in the Martis Valley deserves credit.”

With one win behind it, the Tahoe Area Group has now taken aim at development on Donner Summit. As before, the local club is coordinating its efforts with other conservation groups to assess the impacts of proposed new growth.

“We are all working together to see development that the community can live with that provides the maximum benefits with the least impact.

For more information about the Tahoe Area Group, call Kean at 587-7258, or Michael Donahoe at 775-588-5466.


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