Forest Service to raze Tahoe mansion, restore natural shoreline |

Forest Service to raze Tahoe mansion, restore natural shoreline

RENO, Nev. ” After years of debate, the Forest Service says it will tear down a 10,000-square-foot mansion and restore the site on the shores of Lake Tahoe to natural conditions.

The decision to “decommission” the lakeside estate once owned by stock market magnate Jack Dreyfus is the best use of the property and will improve public access to the lake, Maribeth Gustafson, supervisor of the U.S. Forest Service’s Tahoe unit, said Tuesday.

“My main goal has always been to ensure that this property would remain open to the public while protecting its natural character,” Gustafson said. “This action will provide us an exceptional opportunity to restore a portion of Lake Tahoe shoreline for the enjoyment of current and future generations.”

Formerly known as the Dreyfus Estate, the Zephyr Shoals property comprises 81 acres, including a near three-quarter-mile stretch of Tahoe’s shoreline. Structures on the site include a nine-bedroom mansion, a caretaker’s cottage and a six-car garage.

The land at Zephyr Cove was acquired by the Olympic Group LLC from the Bureau of Land Management through two exchanges in 1996 and 1997 for $38 million.

The Arizona-based land brokerage company received public land around Las Vegas in exchange for the Dreyfus property. At the time of the transaction, the Forest Service was only interested in the land and allowed Olympic to sell the mansion and outbuildings to Park Cattle Co.

Park Cattle, based in Minden, planned to operate a commercial business from the house. But the Forest Service owned the 47 acres of land that the house sat on, and wouldn’t issue a special use permit for the private venture.

In 2001, Park Cattle sold the mansion to the Forest Service and donated its $505,000 proceeds to the Boys and Girls Club of Lake Tahoe.

The Forest Service solicited other ideas for use of the buildings, but determined the best use was to remove them and restore the site to natural conditions.

The land and the mansion were the subject of the most expensive land exchange in U.S. Forest Service history and the target of at least two federal investigations. All parties were cleared of criminal intent, but the government maintained that the $38 million price tag was twice the value of the property.

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