By Darcie Goodman-Collins, PhD, League executive director
Tahoe Daily Tribune
Jun 13, 2013
The people of Nevada have done an amazing thing. In the face of strong lobbying by special interests, they spoke out loud and clear that they want environmental protection for Lake Tahoe.
We are thrilled that Nevada’s leaders listened and removed their threat to dissolve the bi-state Compact and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency that has provided strong environmental protections lake-wide for more than 40 years. This builds a solid foundation for continuing to protect Lake Tahoe for this and future generations.
With a strong bi-state agency, Tahoe will remain eligible for federal funding to continue the work of restoring vital wetlands. It will continue to benefit from a region-wide boat inspection program to safeguard it from devastating invasive species.
And it will continue to benefit from uniform land-use planning to ensure responsible development and revitalization of our communities. These three elements alone will help protect Lake Tahoe’s famed clarity in numerous ways.
We couldn’t have done it without the incredible help of the Nevada Conservation League, particularly their Political Director Kyle Davis. With this milestone under our belts at the League, we’ll be focusing our resources on advocating for strong area plans, the next step in the regional plan process.
Area plans allow each community to tailor the regional plan’s specifications to the community’s needs. We’ll be working to make sure the plans are environmentally sound and contain development within long-established urban boundaries.
A question we are often asked at the League is “What do you do?” or “What is advocacy?” When we talk about advocating for strong area plans, that means our staff will be reading and researching every part of the proposals, comparing them to practices throughout the country, and attending public meetings to try to persuade policy makers to make the right decisions for the environment.
It also means we’ll be sitting down with people who represent other points of view, and trying to find solutions we can agree on so we can make progress. This is the kind of collaboration that produced the regional plan and the compromise to save the Compact.
Collaboration at Lake Tahoe is like walking a tight rope. As nice as the word “collaboration” sounds, it isn’t a bed of roses.
First, the thousands of members who the League represents have differing points of view. Some want us to be more extreme and some want us to be more moderate.
Next, working with Tahoe’s different stakeholders is tough work. Sometimes it means sitting down with someone you have never liked or agreed with.
But what’s remarkable about the past year and a half is that many of us have come together in the spirit of moving forward, and are coming up with new solutions, something that Tahoe’s communities and unique environment deserve.
Take our new volunteer program, Eyes on the Lake, which recruits water lovers to help map out locations of aquatic invasive plants.
Stopping the spread of these water weeds is critical because they could have devastating impacts not only on our environment, but also our economy.
Although the program is lead by the League, it will be carried out with support from the Lake Tahoe Aquatic Invasive Species Program, a partnership of 40 public and private organizations including federal, state and local jurisdictions, research institutions, public utility districts and private marinas.
All these groups are working together with one goal in mind, to Keep Tahoe Blue.
While Eyes on the Lake is likely to be uncontroversial and popular, not everyone loves everything the League does. But we’re OK with that. We’re steadfast in our commitment to the environment at Lake Tahoe and sometimes that irks people who represent other interests.
We are also committed to keeping open conversations with all who appreciate Tahoe. That’s the only way Tahoe will move forward. We’re proud of our work on the bi-state compromise and we’re looking forward to tackling future issues with the same vigor.
This piece was first published in the Tahoe Daily Tribune.