by Lisa Wallace, Executive Director

My first experience with the Truckee River watershed was camping at Donner Lake when I was eight years old – many decades ago (!). In those days, I saw adventure and beauty, not shoreline erosion or aquatic invasive species, and not logging or stormwater runoff around the lake. Nowadays I know that to protect and restore Donner Lake and its surrounding lands there is a lot to do.

  1. We all need to think more about Donner Lake, and expand our thinking to include the entire Donner Basin – from the headwaters at Sierra Crest to the confluence with the Truckee River.
  2. Get a thorough description of attributes of Donner Basin: the natural and social history, and the science (hydrology, geology, geomorphology, water quality). The water management and the aquatic invasive species. The landscape features and natural habitats. The current and historic land uses, and recreation.
  3. Inventory the problems and know the current conditions: create a list of the natural and the human-caused problems in Donner Basin. Estimate future problems.
  4. Identify restoration opportunities and protection needs: make a list of restoration projects. Prioritize the projects. Create an action plan.
  5. Do the projects – fix the problems. Yes, definitely. But more importantly, all of us together need to re-define the minimum standards for taking care of Donner Lake – and Donner Basin – to be higher than they are.

We need better stewardship, more rigor, and most of all, higher aspirations for what we can do for Donner Basin.

To get there, we’re excited to launch the Donner Basin Assessment. We’ll keep you updated on our progress, what we’re learning and how you can participate.

Thank you to the donors of the Truckee River Watershed Council, Laird Norton Family Foundation, and the Truckee River Fund of the Community Foundation of Western Nevada for funding the Donner Basin Assessment.

Photos: These photos are from a fuel tanker wreck and spill on I-80 above Donner Lake in 2010. Credit: David Bunker, Moonshine Ink and Truckee Donner Land Trust.