Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tahoe Summit 2011

The 2011 Tahoe Summit was an annual meeting of the senators and governors from California and Nevada at Homewood ski resort in Lake Tahoe in August 2011.

The leaders met to discuss regional issues including water clarity, invasive species, and the risk of catastrophic wildfire. They discussed Nevada's threatenedpullout from the TRPA under SB 271, as well as UC Davis Tahoe Educational Research Center's State of Lake Tahoe Report. They then signed the Lake Tahoe Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) agreement, which obliges the states to meet water quality standards for the next 65 years, eventually returning Lake clarity to the 100+ feet of clarity that was available in historic times.

Sen Dianne Feinstein

US Senator Dianne Feinstein of California hosted the event last year, introducing all of the other speakers. She praised the Tahoe scientific and preservation community, including the TRPA, Tahoe Transportation District, USGS, forest service, and local fire agencies. She spoke of her longtime comittment to the environment, including her personal experiences with having her staff threatened by wildfire in Lake Tahoe, and her long record of comittment to fully funding Tahoe's environmental needs.

California Gov. Jerry Brown

California Governor Jerry Brown spoke eloquently about the need to balance human needs with the needs of a fragile environment, noting that lake clarity persisted for 10,000 years without the influence of modern people but that we simply have a much more intensive lifestyle in the modern word. He stressed the shortness of human lifespans relative to natural cycles and the need to find a balance where both human and environmental needs are met.

Nevada Gov. Brain Sandoval

Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval talked about his personal experiences growing up visiting the 4-H camp at Lake Tahoe and how it made him respect the area. He spoke of the value of public-private partnerships to improve water quality like the Sierra Colina project in Incline Village, as well as the need for vigilance about invasive species. He also briefly addressed S.B. 271, the ever-controversial plan to threaten Nevada's participation in the interstate compact that governs Lake Tahoe.

Click here to see my video begging him NOT to sign SB 271!

Sen. Harry Reid

US Senator Harry Ried of Nevada talked about the history of environmental regulation in Lake Tahoe, (most of which HE personally made happen) including the Burton-Santini Act (1980) which created the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and made the first public policy of reserving lands at Lake Tahoe for environmental protection; as well as the SNPLMA - Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act (1998), which allowed the sale of federal lands outside Las Vegas to pay for environmental restoration statewide, as well as in Lake Tahoe.

Sen. Dean Heller

Newly minted US Senator Dean Heller, freshly appointed by Governor Sandoval after John Ensign's resignation took the occasion to prais the firefighters who protect Lake Tahoe (including his own son) and raise the contrarian idea of decentralizing the management of Lake Tahoe and devolving control back to the counties and cities of the area, and reducing the regulatory burden on citizens and small businesses. On the TRPA: "Now is the time to re-evaluate the purpose and goals of that agency to get it back to its original purpose."

Finally, Niel Blumenfeld, a representative from the US Environmental Protection Agency gave a demonstration of how dust affects water quality before the TMDL he described as "a diet for Lake Tahoe" was cerimonally signed by both governors.

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