Letter of Farewell

To date, I have had the pleasure and responsibility of serving as your representative on the Tahoe Donner Board of Directors for five and a half years and as your board president twice. It has been a rewarding experience, both because of the part I have been able to play in contributing to ongoing improvements these past few years, and more importantly, the relationships I have established with our excellent staff and fellow board and committee members.

It has been a difficult decision to announce my resignation from the board, as it is entirely due to personal reasons, and not anything related to the excellent experience I have enjoyed in working with our staff and fellow board and committee members.

When you, the members gave me your vote of confidence in the past two elections, selecting me to represent you on your board of directors, I made a commitment to fulfill the goals I promised in my candidates’ statement. I have enjoyed the reward of seeing them come to completion, or well into the process: to protect our open space and secure the Euer Valley, fiscal responsibility to understand and improve on the budget process; address our aging infrastructure; initiating a training program for members of the board in order to develop a strong business and marketing program; and supporting the importance of strong leadership this association now requires to administrate an $18 million dollar a year corporation.

We are no longer primarily a homeowners association that began in the early years of the 1970’s, the Board of Directors is responsible for overseeing a medium sized corporation, including several businesses and restaurants, and approving the design and construction of new buildings and demolition the of old buildings that no longer meet our needs and/or require more funds to repair, remodel or expand due to the 40+ year old failing original construction.

Of the 30 years that I have enjoyed membership in Tahoe Donner Association, these past few years have been the very best and – due to the excellent leadership of our general manager, Robb Etnyre and our current professional staff, without which, none of the improvements that have taken place would been realized. The association is being run more professionally and efficiently today than all the years I can remember since I first bought my parcel in 1981. I want to assure the members that I am leaving the association in excellent hands and that I have every confidence the current Board of Directors, committee members and staff will be serving the members in the very best way possible. I encourage our members to support them in the positive direction Tahoe Donner Association is heading. I would like to point out that we have just recently been named as one of the two top family friendly ski resorts for the entire Tahoe Basin in Family Travel Magazine.

It is impossible to mention all of the people I have had the great pleasure to work with, both staff and members, but I want to extend a special thanks to those I have had the privilege to work with closely and whom have contributed much to my experience in Tahoe Donner; Tom Johns, Ron Wulff, Jim Stang, Miguel Sloane, Annie Rosenfeld, Robby McClendon, Forrest Huisman, Bill Houdyschell, Mike Peters, and especially Robb Etnyre, Mike Salmon and Bonnie Watkins.

To all our members, thank you so much for the opportunity to serve and for your support; it has been an honor.

Suzy Knisley | Board Vice President

November 28, 2012

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Beach Club Marina Project Article

Meeting on contested Tahoe Donner marina project scheduled for Friday night
By Margaret Moran – mmoran@sierrasun.com
Published on Friday, September 28, 2012

TRUCKEE, Calif. — The Tahoe Donner Association will host a Beach Club Marina project meeting Friday evening to provide information and get additional feedback from homeowners about the proposal, which has sparked some environmental concerns.The main issue appears to be over the cutting down of trees within Tahoe Donner, a 7,000-acre homeowner association that features both public and private amenities such as a golf course, cross country trails and tennis courts, in order to make way for marina renovations.

As the proposal stands, 19 Jeffrey pine trees on the upper lawn out of 121 trees in marina area are proposed to be felled, according to Tom Johns, president of the Tahoe Donner Board of Directors, all of which were chosen by the association’s licensed forester.

Three of the 19 trees proposed to be cut are dead, and about another six are either dying or diseased, he said.

“The rest are really too crowded together, and by removing them, it’ll make a much healthier forest,” Johns said.

Those challenging the project are calling for fewer trees to be cut.

“With a few modifications we can save a number of trees,” said Patricia Schifferle, a resident of Tahoe Donner.

Johns said there is a lot misinformation out about how many trees are proposed to be cut, which he hopes can be cleared up at tonight’s meeting.

“There’s a tremendous amount of rumor and innuendo and misstatement of fact out there about what this is all about,” he said. “It only sounds like we’re going in and clear cutting the whole thing.”


The project

As the proposal stands, a new terrace will be constructed, the deck will be expanded with new glass installed to block the wind for diners, the upper picnic area will be enlarged while making it ADA compliant, and the beach area will be extended. Grading and drainage improvements will also be made to reduce current beach erosion problems.

These renovations were decided upon based on feedback from homeowners who attended past board meetings, Johns said.

“The marina is one of our most used areas, and if you go down there on a summer weekend, you can barely get in the place, and we do need more room,” he said.

The proposed changes to the marina have been met with mostly positive reviews, said Robb Etnyre, general manager of Tahoe Donner.

“Overall, homeowners are very excited about the project,” he said.

Schifferle, however, does have some concerns about the project beyond the cutting down of trees.

“Our usefulness is access to Donner Lake. I think expanding the eating place would really harm people’s access to the lake,” she said, by creating less space on the lower lawn for people to drop off their boats and other beach equipment. “It would cause congestion and a staging problem for people at the lake.”

Homeowner feedback such as Schifferle’s will be considered at tonight’s meeting, Etnyre said.

The goal of those challenging the project — which includes the Sierra Club and the Mountain Area Preservation Foundation — is to modify the project and to get it scaled back, according to Schifferle.

Etnyre said there is no definite date as of now for when the marina renovation plan will go before the Truckee Planning Commission. A commission review was planned for Sept. 18, according to a press release, but that was postponed by the Tahoe Donner Board of Directors in order to get additional membership feedback and to clear up any misinformation.

Johns said the hope is to start the marina renovations next spring.

October 2, 2012

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Marina Project Postponed

Tahoe Donner’s planned renovations to the Beach Club Marina decks and lawns on Donner Lake, scheduled for review in front of the Truckee Planning Commission on September 18, has been postponed by the association’s board of directors. Although the project had been reviewed in several community forums over the last six months, a last minute appeal by a few members has not fallen on deaf ears. On September 18, the board of directors voted to postpone the project review with the Town Planning Commission in order to allow an additional comment period for the membership on the project and also to correct some fundamental misinformation being distributed on the project.

The board has scheduled an additional membership input meeting for 5:30 p.m. on Friday, September 28, at Northwoods Clubhouse, to allow members to express their concerns with the project in a public forum while also allowing updated detailed project design to be communicated first hand. Tom Johns, president of the board of directors noted, “Membership feedback is extremely important to the board of directors, particularly in our diverse community of 25,000 members. With the feedback we received over the past week from a few concerned members and out-of-area environmental groups, it is clear that there is some significant misinformation on the project design and scope that was not consistent with the actual plans.”

General manager Robb Etnyre commented, “Tahoe Donner has a great track record of excellent stewardship of more than 7,000 acres of land in the Sierra, north of Truckee. In the past two years we have protected more than 1,000 acres of unique scenic viewscape surrounding Tahoe Donner from development, along with regular reforestation efforts, that has included planting more than 5,000 trees last year alone. It would be extremely inconsistent for us not to apply the same core values and guiding principles to the Marina project as some have indicated.”

The planned improvements to the Beach Club Marina include a new terrace, deck expansion, and new glass around the expanded deck to block the wind for diners. Tahoe Donner will also enlarge the upper picnic area, addressing ADA accessibility needs in the process. Expansion of the upper picnic area will involve enlarging the lawn and thinning existing trees on the upper lawn in keeping with the project design and healthy forest management practices, as well as other landscaping improvements. Grading and drainage improvements will also be implemented to curb current beach erosion problems.

The Beach Club Marina will be closed for a few months during the construction phase for these improvements. Once complete, the Marina will have more capacity to better meet the needs of homeowners—for events, family barbecues, or just enjoying a day at the lake.

###

September 18, 2012

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Trails Master Plan Meeting

Are you an avid user of the Tahoe Donner Trail System? Please consider attending the Trails Master Plan Meeting from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 15, at the meeting room in Northwoods Clubhouse. Tahoe Donner management along with Alta Design + Planning, Tahoe Donner’s trail consulting firm, will hold an initial meeting to discuss the Trails Master Plan validation project happening this fall. You can view the draft Trails Master Plan here.

September 14, 2012

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Bear Safety

According to the Bear League, 2007 was a record year for bear deaths in the Truckee Tahoe region. A recorded 120 bears were hit by cars or destroyed for their continued annoyance and potential threat to the public.

Wild animals naturally fear people; as long as you keep your distance, they will generally not bother you, unless the animal has become accustomed to human contact. When bears have easy access to human food sources, including trash, it has been observed that their behavior changes. In these cases, bears are no longer cautious and fearful around people, and this may result in property damage and even threaten human safety.

You may request bear-awareness stickers for your dumpsters by calling Nichole Dorr at (530)582 -2909. We recommend you secure dumpsters with a carabineer, so it will allow the garbage company to maintain easy access to the trash.

Facts about Local Bears

Black bears are the only species of bear in California. They range in color from blond to black; brown is the most common color. Black bears can run up to 35 miles per hour, climb trees and swim. Never run from a bear. As winter approaches, bears will forage for food up to 20 hours per day, storing as much fat as possible to hibernate during the winter months. Bears hibernate less if food, such as garbage, is available. Males are much larger than females and can weigh up to 500 pounds; the average male weighs 300 pounds. A typical diet for a wild bear consists of berries, plants, nuts, roots, honey, honeycomb, insects, insect larvae, carrion and small mammals.

There are simple steps that you can follow to protect bears and other wildlife from a potentially deadly encounter. Remember, we must all act responsible in bear country to keep the bears Alive and Wild.

Keep in mind that bears and other animals are attracted to anything edible or smelly. Take precautions by using the following guidelines:

In town:

  • Utilize public trash receptacles and dumpsters while visiting local parks and recreational facilities. Pay special attention when securing receptacle or dumpster lids.
  • Keep bear-proof trash receptacles and dumpsters closed, latched and locked at all times.
  • Do not leave trash, groceries or pet food in your car. If you absolutely must leave edible or smelly items in your car, then make sure the items are in airtight containers and locked in your trunk.
  • Stow all edible or smelly products, including food, suntan lotion, insect repellent, soap, toothpaste and candles properly. Keep these products inside your home or secured in bear lockers while camping.

Camping:

  • Remember, NEVER keep food in your tent.
  • Keep a clean camp. Immediately clean up after meals, and store food and garbage, as outlined above. Keep barbecue grills away from tents.
  • If you are backpacking, remember that if you pack it in, then you must pack it out. Remember to be prepared to use a bear-sling to hoist food high up on a tree limb. In alpine conditions, use a bear canister for all food and toiletries

At home or work:

  • Do not run. Assert your dominance by standing tall and making loud noises to scare the bear away.
  • Never place trash and recycling at your curb prior to your collection day.
  • If the property uses a shared dumpster for trash and recycling, or if the property is commercial, make sure to close, latch and lock the dumpster lid. Never leave dumpster lids open and unsecured.
  • Periodically disinfect trash containers to remove odors.
  • Always remove the key from a bear canister after making sure the container is properly secured.
  • Harvest fruit off trees as soon as soon it is ripe, and promptly collect the fruit that falls to the ground.
  • Keep bird feeders off decks and inaccessible to bears.
  • Keep barbecue grills clean.
  • Securely block access to potential hibernation sites, such as crawl spaces under decks and buildings.
  • Keep doors and windows closed and locked when you are away from the property.

Anywhere:

  • Be sure to allow the bear free clearance if it attempts to get away.
  • Never get between a mother bear and her cubs.
  • Slowly walk away from any bear and make loud noises.
  • Although attacks are very rare, if you are attacked, FIGHT BACK AGGRESSIVELY! Do not roll up in a ball and play dead.

In the woods:

  • Do not run.
  • Make eye contact, but don’t stare.
  • Pick up small children and make yourself appear large.
  • Stay calm and quiet; back away slowly.

August 22, 2012

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