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Home Water Aquatic Species and Communities

Taylor Creek Marsh

Status and Trend

Interpretation and Commentary

Status: At or Better Than Target
Trend: Litle or No Change
Confidence: Low

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  • Relevance - Taylor Creek Marshcovers more than 250 acres adjacent to U.S. Forest Service Baldwin Beach and Kiva Beach on the south shore of Lake Tahoe. The marsh complex includes the drainage areas of both Taylor and Tallac Creeks, and the mouths of both creeks support robust populations of the endangered Tahoe yellow cress (Rorippa subumbellata), a TRPA listed sensitive plant species (Stanton and Pavlik 2005-2010). Taylor Creek Marsh provides important waterfowl nesting habitat, habitat for bald eagles, and supports a multitude of other species, including some that depend on the marsh for their entire life cycle (Manley et al. 2000).Freshwater marshes are one of the most productive ecosystems in the Basin and have been identified in the Tahoe Science Plan (Hymanson and Collopy 2010) as special communities, which are small in extent, but have great functional importance (Manley et al. 2009).Wetland vegetation plays an important role in recycling nutrients, trapping eroding soil, and filtering pollutants (Manley et al. 2009). This filtration capacity critically important in protecting the clarity of Lake Tahoe.
  • Adopted Standard - Provide for the non-degradation of the natural qualities of any plant community that are uncommon to the Basin, or of exceptional scientific, ecological, or scenic value. The Threshold Standard shall apply, but not be limited to, 1) the deep-water plants of Lake Tahoe, 2) Grass Lake, 3) Osgood Swamp, 4) Hell Hole, 5) Upper Truckee Marsh, 6) Taylor Creek Marsh, 7) Freel Peak Cushion Plan Community, and 8) Pope Marsh.
  • Indicator - The status and trend determination was based on a qualitative assessment of the natural qualities of a plant community. The natural qualities of a plant community include the current plant species assemblage, the health, age and ecological condition of those plant species, and the condition of the hydrologic regime.
  • Status – Taylor Creek Marsh is adjacent to Baldwin Beach and Kiva Beach, which are largely undeveloped, but receive moderate to high levels of recreational use in the summer months. Most of the use is concentrated on the beaches themselves and the area around the U.S. Forest Service Taylor Creek Visitor Center east of the marsh. The Visitor Center includes a paved trail through the marsh, numerous user trails, and a stream profile viewing chamber on Taylor Creek. A road to the beach parking lots bisects the entire complex. A fire burned through a portion of the site in 2002 and the burned area has since supported one of the largest infestations of invasive bull thistle (Cirsium vulgare) on National Forest lands in the Lake Tahoe Basin (USDA 2011a). St. John’s wort, (Hypericum perforatum), another noxious weed species, has also established in wetter unburned areas, and invasive Eurasian watermilfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum) is found in the mouths of both Taylor and Tallac Creeks (USDA 2011a). The Forest Service is monitoring these infestations and removing bull thistle and St John’s wort by hand when possible. Dogs, which may harass wildlife, trample vegetation, and add unwanted nutrients to the system, are prohibited at Baldwin Beach, but allowed on leash at areas accessed by the Taylor Creek Visitor Center. Approximately 150 acres within and adjacent to the site were treated for fuels reduction, including the entire burned area (USDA 2011b). Along the beach, portions of the Tahoe yellow cress populations have been fenced, beginning as early as the 1980s and these enclosures have continually supported robust numbers of plants (Stanton et al. 2010). Quantitative vegetation monitoring plots have been installed at the site, but the data has not yet been evaluated (Engelhardt and Gross 2011a). Recent Threshold Evaluations have judged that the status of Taylor Creek Marsh is in attainment and stable (TRPA 2001; TRPA 2011c). Management actions to control invasive weed spread, direct recreational use, and reduce fuel loads, fire risk, and hazardous dead trees have been implemented. Still, there are impacts from recreation in limited portions of the marsh complex. The beach at the outlet of the marsh continues to support Tahoe yellow cress. There is no evidence that the plant communities in the area have declined in the last five years, and therefore, Taylor Creek Marsh was determined to be “at or better than target.”

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  • Trend There is no evidence available indicating there has been any particular decline or improvement in the condition of Taylor Creek Marsh over the last five years. No major changes have been observed in the management approach, or the amount, type, or location of recreational use, that would affect the natural qualities of the site. Therefore, thetrend was assessed as “little or no change.”

  • Confidence – The confidence in the status and trend analysis was determined to be “low,” because insufficient quantitative data were available to judge status and trend.
  • Human and Environmental Drivers - Recreation impacts from user-created trails and dogs in the vicinity of the Taylor Creek Visitor Center at Taylor Creek Marsh exist and are not likely to be removed in the future (Engelhardt and Gross 2011a). However, the site is not subject to any of the main activities that generally threaten wetlands in the Sierra Nevada including road and trail construction, stock trampling, off-road vehicles, and ground and surface water pumping, although water pollution from the state highway may be a concern (Manley et al. 2000). Lake level, stream flow, and shoreline processes interact in conjunction with wave action to dictate the opening and closing of the sandbars across the mouth of Taylor and Tallac Creeks. In low water years, the barrier beach is sometimes breached (i.e., artificially opened) to facilitate kokanee salmon spawning in late summer and fall. Water availability and soil moisture in the marsh determines which plant species can persist and thrive (USDA 2009d). Similar to other wetlands, extended drought and climate change pose a threat to the system.
  • Monitoring Approach – The status and trend determinations were based on a qualitative assessment of factors influencing the condition of the site including historical alterations, on-going hydrologic impacts, sources of recreation-related disturbance, and surrounding land use and management. However, in the future it will be possible to base the evaluation on quantitative vegetation monitoring data. Permanent plots following the protocol in the Region 5 Range Monitoring Program were installed at Taylor Creek Marsh in 2004 (Weixelman et al. 2003). The program is designed to quantify changes in the ecological condition of wetland plant communities (Weixelman et al. 2003). The plots were re-visited in 2009/2010 but the data have not yet been analyzed (Engelhardt et al. 2011). The protocol is designed to classify meadows and wetlands according to dominant plant species, elevation, and site moisture characteristics, and then use a customized quantitative ecological condition scorecard for that meadow type. The user assigns an ecological condition of low, moderate, or high based on plant species composition, the presence of different plant functional groups, and other hydrogeomorphic variables. The protocol provides information on the environmental conditions necessary to support certain rare species, and the monitoring design allows for quantitatively tracking rare species abundance.
  • Monitoring Partners – U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, California Native Plant Society


  • Monitoring Plan
  • Conceptual Model


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Map showing location of Taylor Creek Marsh and surrounding area.

Additional Info


Additional Information

Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 October 2012 13:16