Thursday, August 26, 2010

Loss of Freedom at Independence Lake - A Sierra Tragedy

The Recreation HQ has mostly focused on the current battle to protect historic access to motorized trails on public lands. Those efforts include; TMR, Obamuments, eco-lawsuits, and new Wilderness or other restrictive land proposals.
PHOTO: Map of Independence Lake (click on map for expanded view to see roads, boat ramp, and campground)

Today, HQ wants to direct your attention to a small albeit important water-based access fight currently taking place at Independence Lake near the Little Truckee Summit OHV/OSV staging area.

Aug. 25 Article on Lake Fight

This hugely popular lake was managed by Sierra Pacific Power and was open for use by campers, power boaters, fisherman, and the general public. Recently, The Nature Conservancy “bought” the 2,300 acres that surrounded the lake from the power company.
Of the $15 million dollar purchase about $13 million dollars were public funds.

TNC Project Overview

What makes this story important is that there are a small yet grimly determined group (several are BRC members) of local users who think they got the raw end of the deal (they did!) when TNC closed the campground, roads, and boat ramp (click on the above map to see the ramp, campground icons and the roads) to the public and banned the use of even small fishing boats with trolling motors on the lake.

HQ believes that with the current trend of power companies divesting themselves of land surrounding water projects that riders (and water users) should be engaged in any public process surrounding these land purchases.

The General will be watching this issue as the loss of public access to lakes in California via “less than honest or transparent” land deals is just as important as losing historic access to motorized trails. This also begs the question, “Should public monies be used to buy lands and then close them to local users?” HQ believes the answer is a big NO.

Rather, these lands that often sit in the middle of our National Forests should be transferred to the adjacent federal land agency that has a multiple-use mandate vs. a green land trust with a mission to restrict or ban historic public use on lands or waters they acquire.

Thanks for your interest in this story!


  1. you can still enjoy Independence Lake in canoe, raft, kayak--just no motors in the sensitive areas. Get it?

  2. Doug, This pristine lake was pristine while people were using power boats in it and camping by the lake and using the roads around the lake over the last 50 years.

    The local folks I have talked to said they feel TNC has been dishonest since a total closure of the lake was never fronted to the local community.

    I am afraid that I and others do get it. Thanks for your comments.

  3. Id be ok with electric motors only.

  4. It has been awhile since I have been to Independence Lake, but if I were to go back I would prefer not to be hearing motors. I suppose I agree that electric motors wold be OK.

  5. Spreck, I think the locals would be happy with elec. motors and having the old boat ramp reopened for public use. I think they got screwed.