It’s in Martis Valley where Sierra Watch wrote the first chapter in our organization’s ongoing story of conservation success.
The story begins in December of 2000 when a small group of Sierra residents and local homeowners learned about impending plans to develop Martis Valley. They founded Sierra Watch to spell out a happier ending.
It’s a story we’ve been living every day, ever since. So far we have secured permanent protection for more than 5,000 acres of priority Martis Valley land and built a collaborative consensus for a better blueprint for the Tahoe-Truckee Region. But our work in Martis Valley is far from done.
Martis Valley: Heart of Tahoe-Truckee
Nestled between North Tahoe and Truckee, Martis Valley includes 45,000 acres of meadow, forest, and mountain. Its location is critical to the entire region, providing a welcoming gateway to Lake Tahoe, a crucial habitat link between wilderness areas and the Tahoe Basin, and a popular recreation area for hikers, bikers, anglers, birders, campers, and skiers. Martis Valley itself is rich in biological diversity and conservation value, with a unique blend of Sierra Nevada and Great Basin resources.
With its beautiful scenery, abundant wildlife, crystal waters, and clear skies, Martis Valley exemplifies what we love about the Tahoe-Truckee Region and the Sierra Nevada.
Initial Threats and Impressive Victories
In 2000 landowners and officials put forth plans for massive development throughout Martis Valley – proposals would have carved up and subdivided both sides of Highway 267 and built more than 6,000 new housing units between Truckee and Brockway Summit on the rim of the Tahoe Basin.
Sierra Watch built a team of planning experts, recruited a core of committed donors, and achieved what was then considered impossible: turning back “inevitable” development proposals.
And we shifted the debate towards our positive vision for the Valley – a blueprint that includes less than half of the proposed units and permanent limits on how much can be built.
We secured an important piece of the Martis Valley puzzle in November 2007 when Waddle Ranch was permanently protected as open space. First, we stopped development of Waddle Ranch – it had been approved as the site for a golf course, shopping mall, and hundreds of housing units. Then, we collaborated with local organizations to create The Martis Fund (www.martisfund.org), which supported the purchase of the land and will continue to be a long-term vehicle to fund future land purchases and invest in watershed protection in Martis Valley.
Time to Secure Next Big Conservation Gain
Now Sierra Watch is working with our allies to secure a conservation outcome for the 6,900 acre Sierra Pacific Industries property in Martis Valley, straddling Highway 267 from Martis Peak to Northstar and spilling into the Tahoe Basin.
Landowners seek to divide the property into three pieces: the eastern or Martis Peak portion is proposed for permanent conservation – our longstanding goal. The middle section, known as the Martis Valley West parcel, is proposed for 760 new houses. And the Tahoe Basin portion of the property, about 100 acres, is proposed for a new resort and campground.
Sierra Watch is working to secure conservation of the East side and ensure that any development on any other portion of the property would not undermine our collaborative blueprint for Martis Valley – or threaten the timeless values of the Tahoe Truckee Region.
Martis Valley: A Worthy Investment
Back in 2000, to a lot of people, it seemed crazy: how could a small group of Sierra conservationists turn back Martis Valley development? But to the hundreds of supporters who invested in our campaign, the returns have been phenomenal. Whether measured in conservation dollars raised or in acres protected, Sierra Watch has clearly proven itself as an effective vehicle for Sierra conservation.
It’s in Martis Valley, where we pioneered our effective approach to defending our favorite Sierra places and created an ongoing opportunity to secure the heart of the Tahoe-Truckee Region for future generations. Such success does not come easily; an effective conservation campaign requires a significant commitment of resources and expertise.
Martis Valley is clearly worth the investment.