Tribe Urges Protection Of Scenic Valley

By  | 

The Washoe Tribe has criticized a development plan for a scenic valley just north of Lake Tahoe, saying it fails to protect enough of its ancestral homeland.

Tim Seward, the tribe's general counsel, said the final environmental impact report for the Martis Valley Community Plan doesn't ensure adequate protection of archaeological and historic resources.

"(The Martis Valley) continues to play a very integral and critical role in the culture of the Washoe Tribe," Seward told Placer County supervisors at a public hearing last week.

Supervisors asked county staff to work with the tribe to determine what compromises could be made. The matter will be discussed at a later meeting.

Supervisors have delayed formal action on the plan, which some call one of the largest development proposals ever considered in the Sierra Nevada.

The long-debated growth blueprint for about 25,000 acres along Highway 267 between Truckee and Northstar would allow a maximum of 8,600 homes and other residential units.

Growth also would include about 600,000 square feet of stores, restaurants and other commercial development, as well as several new golf courses.

Tribal Chairman Brian Wallace said the tribe should be able to use some of the land and keep it natural. The tribe has members in California and Nevada.

"For the Washoe people and for us, history is more about place than it is time," Wallace said. "(Martis Valley) is the epicenter of the Washoe culture as we know it.

"My job is to fight for our most important teachers. And that's the elders, our families and most particularly, the land," he added.

Critics contend the plan would promote urban sprawl that could ruin the scenic landscape and bring problems to nearby areas, including Tahoe and Truckee.

Supporters maintain the changes envisioned through the 20-year growth strategy represent a rational, tempered plan that would benefit the local economy.