Lake Tahoe Summit Held Amidst Progress, Crticism

Katie Orr, Capital Public Radio
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Progress is being made toward restoring the clarity of Lake Tahoe, but the job’s not over yet. That was the message from key-note speaker former Vice President Al Gore at Monday’s 17th Annual Lake Tahoe Summit.

The lake is now clear to a depth of about 75 feet. And Gore says if progress continues future generations will be thankful.

“If they come to the shores of Lake Tahoe and they see the water all the way down 75, or 100 feet, and they look at the majesty of the lake and see the clear skies. And they see communities in renewal and millions of new jobs being created in renewable energy,” he said.

Gore was present at the first Tahoe summit when then-President Bill Clinton authorized more than 400 million dollars for restoration projects. Senators from California and Nevada are supporting a renewal of that funding.

The two states are also in the process of renewing a bi-state agreement to manage the lake. A plan already approved by Nevada allows for the consideration of economic development as well as environmental concerns. A similar plan is making its way through the California Legislature and has Governor Jerry Brown’s support, despite a legal challenge by environmentalists.  

“This has been a good process,” Brown said. “And I think what we’re going to get is better than what we have and so we’re moving forward. That’s all you can ask.”

Brown is joined in his support of the plan by Democratic Senators Harry Reid and Diane Feinstein and Nevada’s governor. But Nevada has threatened to pull out of the agency if its development conditions are not met.

The Sierra Club’s Laurel Ames said challenging the bi-state renewal agreement in court was the only way to fight the plan.

“It increases urbanization substantiality. And it increases the storm-water run-off to the lake,” she said. “It’s just generally an irresponsible plan.”

Hundreds of people attended the summit, which was held at Nevada’s Sand Harbor State Park on the lake’s east shore.

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