State Parks Funding

Washoe Meadows State Park, El Dorado County

Changing times bring changing values – and sometimes conflict.

Such is the case at Washoe Meadows State Park in South Lake Tahoe. Its neighbor is another state park, Lake Valley State Recreation Area, devoted entirely to an 18-hole golf course run by a concessionaire.

The state acquired the parks and golf course in 1984. The previous owner developed the course by diverting and channeling the Little Truckee River, the largest waterway feeding crystalline Lake Tahoe.

Research shows the golf course and its altered river are a top contributor of erosion around Lake Tahoe, a leading cause of declining water clarity.

Parks officials have proposed restoring 40 acres of the golf course to river floodplain, and replacing that lost area of golf course on 60 acres of forested land at Washoe Meadows State Park.

Critics, including Bob Anderson of Meyers, don't want any part of the golf course moved to Washoe Meadows. Anderson wants the river restored, and says golf should be limited to an area east of the river.

A draft environmental study is expected this month. Pam Armas, district superintendent overseeing the two parks, said the state favors the land-swap option, partly to retain recreation options for the public but also because golf makes money. The course generates about $6 million annually and 70 jobs for the local economy, and nearly $900,000 annually for the cash-strapped state parks department.