Martis Valley

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Martis Creek Lake and dam in summer
Part of the Martis Creek Basin

Martis Valley is a geographic area of 70 square miles (180 km2) in the United States, extending northward from the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, California, to the west of the California-Nevada border. It is located in Placer and Nevada Counties and is bisected by Martis Creek which flows north to the Truckee River.


Located in the Sierra Nevada mountains north of Lake Tahoe, Martis Valley is largely rural and forested.[1] Elevation ranges from approximately 5,800 to 8,600 feet above mean sea level.[2]

The area is roughly coextensive with the Martis Creek Basin, which drains into the Truckee River.[3] It includes Martis Creek, Donner Creek, and Prosser Creek, major tributaries to the Truckee River.[3] There are several natural lakes, Dry Lake, and Gooseneck Lake, Donner Lake. The Prosser Creek Reservoir, a small manmade lake, was created in 1962.[4] A larger lake, Martis Creek Reservoir, was built in 1972 by the United States Army Corps of Engineers as flood risk reduction for Reno, Nevada.[2] The area also includes Martis Creek Lake Recreation Area, operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers, the northern portion of the Northstar at Tahoe ski resort, the Lahontan Golf Club,[5] and the Truckee-Tahoe Airport. California State Route 267, one of two main roads connecting Truckee and Lake Tahoe, runs through the valley.[2]


In 2001 a forest fire burned 15,000 acres (61 km2) of land.[6]


In the 2000s Martis Valley faced development pressure due to its proximity to Truckee, California and Northstar at Tahoe, a popular ski resort.[1] Developers initially obtained approval to build 6,000 homes on 25,000 acres (100 km2) of subdivisions, which would have more than doubled the population of Truckee, California. In response environmentalists, preservationists and other activists created an organization in 2000,[7] Sierra Watch, that filed lawsuits to prevent the development.[8] After a judge issued an injunction against development, the litigation was eventually settled via a series of agreements that resulted in scaled-back housing projects,[1][9][10] as well as preserving and providing more than $100 million for various wildlife and historic preservation initiatives.[11][12] Among the agreements, developers and conservationists agreed to establish the Martis Fund, in order to develop affordable workforce housing for people who worked in the area,[13] and also to levy a real estate transfer tax to pay for conservation land acquisitions by the Truckee Donner Land Trust.[14][15][16] One major result was the preservation of the historic Waddle Ranch, a property of 1,500 acres (6 km2) property dating to the 1850s.[17][18] Among the properties developed are hundreds of multimillion-dollar vacation homes, Old Greenwood (a golf course and resort), and a new Ritz-Carlton resort at Northstar.[19]

In 2016, Mountainside Partners and Sierra Pacific Industries submitted a final application for entitlements for its proposed Martis Valley West Parcel Specific Plan, a plan that prompted the Attorney General of California to write a letter of concern to Placer County.[20] The plan would include 760 condominium units and luxury homes with 6.6 acres of commercial development on Brockway Summit ridgeline overlooking Lake Tahoe. According to the environmental review for the project, the new development would be built in a dangerous fire corridor, hamper evacuation paths in cases of fire for the North Lake Tahoe/Truckee Region along CA Hwy 267, and create traffic that would negatively impact the clarity of Lake Tahoe.[21][22] In October 2016, the Placer County Board of Supervisors approved the controversial development proposal,[23] in spite of wide-spread opposition from area residents and local conservation organizations, including Sierra Watch.[24] Sierra Watch, along with the Tahoe-based League to Save Lake Tahoe and Truckee-based Mountain Area Preservation, filed suit to overturn those approvals for violating the California Environmental Quality Act in November of 2016.[25]


  1. ^ a b c Douglas Fischer (2006-03-30). "Development deal leaves Tahoe basin wide open". Oakland Tribune.
  2. ^ a b c "Martis Creek Basin". Truckee River Watershed Council. Archived from the original on 2007-08-13.
  3. ^ a b "Martis Valley Groundwater Basin" (PDF). California Department of Water Resources. January 2006.
  4. ^ "Prosser Creek Reservoir". Archived from the original on 2005-12-18.
  5. ^ "History of Lahontan". Lahontan Golf Club. Archived from the original on 2010-01-30.
  6. ^ "Martis Fire". Truckee River Watershed Council.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "History". Sierra Watch. 2006.
  8. ^ Ann M. Simmons (2005-02-26). "Judge Halts 6,000-House Martis Valley Development". Los Angeles Times.
  9. ^ Ken Garcia (2005-05-06). "Some relief for Tahoe's growing pains". San Francisco Chronicle.
  10. ^ Celia Lamb (2006-03-29). "Developer agrees to scale back Martis Valley plans". Sacramento Business Journal.
  11. ^ "Waddle Ranch Saved!". The Trust for Public Land. December 2007. Archived from the original on 2007-08-22.
  12. ^ "Martis Valley dispute dismissed". Sacramento Business Journal. 2006-09-18.
  13. ^ "Martis Valley, California". the Urban Land Institute. 2008-09-25.
  14. ^ Sierra Countis. "Land Trust gets $1 million for Martis Valley deal". North Lake Tahoe Bonanza.
  15. ^ "Landmark Agreement for Martis Valley Reached". Sierra Watch (press release). 2005-03-09.
  16. ^ David Bunker (2005-03-11). "Deal makes millions for Martis Valley". Sierra Sun. Archived from the original on 2011-07-27.
  17. ^ Greyson Howard (2009-03-20). "Preserved lands near Truckee put in public hands". Sierra Sun. Archived from the original on 2011-07-27.
  18. ^ Chuck Squatriglia (2007-04-28). "Rare compromise leads to protection for Martis Valley". San Francisco Chronicle.
  19. ^ "Land Dispute Settled In Martis Valley". KGO. 2006-08-23.
  20. ^ “Response to Placer County: Martis Valley West Specific Plan Environmental Impact Report, California Office of the Attorney General
  21. ^ “Martis Valley West Parcel Project, Community Development, County of Placer County
  22. ^ Moonshine Ink Staff (December 2, 2016). "MAP, Sierra Watch, League to Save Lake Tahoe File Suit Against Martis Valley West Development”, Moonshine Ink.”
  23. ^ Branan, Brad (December 4, 2016). "Placer could focus Tahoe development in north shore towns to avoid growth elsewhere ", The Sacramento Bee.
  24. ^ Moonshine Ink Staff (June 30, 2016). "’This is Our Home’ –The Martis Valley West Project”, Moonshine Ink.”
  25. ^ Rhoades, Amanda (November 10, 2016). “League to Save Lake Tahoe, Sierra Watch, Mountain Area Preservation sue over Martis Valley West (updated)”, The Sierra Sun/North Lake Tahoe Bonanza.”

Coordinates: 39°20′48″N 120°07′06″W / 39.34667°N 120.11833°W / 39.34667; -120.11833