A nearly 600-acre wetland sits at the southernmost end of Lake Tahoe. It’s where Tahoe’s two largest tributaries – the Upper Truckee River and Trout Creek – meet and mingle amid tall grasses and willows before flowing into the lake. This wetland might not look like much, but it’s critical to the health of Lake Tahoe’s environment. The wetland naturally filters pollution and fine sediment, guarding Lake Tahoe’s clarity. It also stores carbon, fights climate change and serves as a resilient habitat in times of drought for dozens of fish and wildlife species.
But for more than a century, the Upper Truckee Marsh was considered a wasteland, during a time when marshes across the country were being developed and paved over. When Tahoe was experiencing an enormous development boom in the mid-20th century, the Forest Service had an opportunity to conserve 750 acres of the marsh. But the agency turned down the $ 75,000 deal, according to Michael J. Makley’s book “Saving Lake Tahoe.”