Johnson Meadows to be restored with public purchase

Courtesy Tahoe RCD

The largest privately-owned section of the Upper Truckee River, Johnson Meadow, is now publicly owned by the Tahoe RCD, setting the stage for the most ambitious restoration effort in the Lake Tahoe Basin, according to a press release.

“This historic acquisition will jump start a collaborative effort to restore the river, improve wildlife habitat, and provide public access to visitors and the local community,” said Nicole Cartwright, executive director of Tahoe RCD, in a press release.

The purchase was made possible through a collaboration between Tahoe RCD, the California Tahoe Conservancy, California Department of Fish & Wildlife, Tahoe Fund and the former property owners.

Johnson Meadow is situated in the heart of the city of South Lake Tahoe in El Dorado County. It is located within the Upper Truckee River watershed, the largest watershed in the Lake Tahoe Basin, draining more than 56 square miles and providing some of the most significant wet meadow floodplain habitat in the Sierra Nevada.

Tahoe RCD recently acquired title to about 206 acres comprising the Johnson Meadow property in order to provide continuous public ownership of the lower 9 miles of the Upper Truckee River before the river enters Lake Tahoe. This 9-mile reach of the Upper Truckee is centered downstream of property owned by the City of South Lake Tahoe and California Department of Parks and Recreation (Washoe Meadows State Park) and upstream of the Upper Truckee Marsh, owned by the California Tahoe Conservancy. Johnson Meadow is situated in the floodplain of the Upper Truckee and was the largest privately-owned meadow in the Tahoe Basin.

Acquisition of Johnson Meadow is a critical step in restoring the Upper Truckee watershed, and this river reach contains significant wildlife habitat, including river, riparian, meadow and upland habitat areas. The purpose of this land purchase is to provide ecosystem and watershed protection benefits through preservation, management, and future restoration of meadow, riparian, aquatic and upland habitats in Johnson Meadow.

Tahoe RCD is committed to working with a variety of stakeholders in the restoration planning process to ensure that future plans address social and ecological topics such as community outreach and stewardship, riparian habitat restoration, wildlife conservation, water quality improvement, public access and reducing environmental hazards. Restoration of the river and associated habitats will focus on restoring natural hydrologic processes throughout the meadow and coordinating these projects with the work being conducted on adjacent river reaches of the Upper Truckee. | tahoercd.org