Republican and Democratic Leaders Come Together to Save Lake Tahoe
Last Monday, politicians both Republican and Democrat joined together to encourage the private-public sector to save Lake Tahoe’s pristine basin from sliding into ecological decay. The vast blue lake once threatened by cloudiness has stabilized but new threats have emerged including invasive species, erosion, climate change and overcrowded fire prone conditions.
Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America and the second deepest lake in the United States next to Oregon’s Clear Lake. The vast body of water located in the Sierra Nevada mountain range is one of the most scenic in the world attracting millions of visitors every year. It boasts countless outdoor recreational activities, large casinos, and infamous ski resorts.
Back in 1997, President Bill Clinton and vice president Al Gore launched the annual Lake Tahoe conferences out of concern for the lakes environmental health. For 16 years political leaders and stakeholders have attended the meetings to discuss the state of Lake Tahoe. This year’s theme was focused on “Public-Private Partnerships – Investing in the Future of Lake Tahoe.”
The Monday afternoon press release held at Edgewood Tahoe Gold Course in Stateline had appearances from California Governor Jerry Brown, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval, U.S. Senator Dean Heller, R-Nev, and U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
The threats from invasive species like Asian clams and smallmouth bass are continuing to rise. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein spoke at the summit on Monday, “If we are going to save this lake, it is because people care and we work together and we make the necessary compromises.”
There has been some major success in Lake Tahoe with public-private partnerships in the past. A project mostly funded by public money restored neglected areas of South Lake Tahoe’s shoreline while simultaneously boosting local business and concessionaries. Sprawling new terraces, new barbeques, new landscaping and wide accessible walkways replaced old rickety staircases, fencing, and eroding slopes. Underneath the ground new storm water tanks were installed where runoff would be directed away from the park. This project attracted more visitors in the following months and received great feedback from the public.
Climate change has been affecting the lake as NASA scientists confirmed that the largest lakes in the world including Lake Tahoe have been warming every year. Additional studies have shown that there will be continuing shifts from snowfall to rain, earlier snowmelt and more runoff, increased drought, particularly toward the end of the century along with an increase in flood magnitude. Climate change effects will also alter the circulation of water, which will change conditions for plant and fish life within the lake.
Improving the lake’s clarity and repairing run down infrastructures in the local areas will not only bolster the local economy but also avoid deterioration of one of the most beautiful places in the country. It’s promising to see leaders from both California and Nevada, Democratic and Republican, come together to preserve the natural beauty of Lake Tahoe. With plans in place and new funding it looks like Tahoe will get the help it so desperately needs thanks to this year’s summit.
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