Four years after the adoption of the Regional Plan Update on Dec. 12, 2012, the Lake Tahoe Basin continues to make significant progress. TRPA and partners around the lake are collaborating and working together like never before to restore Lake Tahoe’s unique natural environment and revitalize our communities.
As we prepare to continue this progress in the approaching New Year, here’s a quick look back at some of the major events that happened in 2016.
December: Placer County Approves Tahoe Basin Area Plan
Placer County’s Board of Supervisors approved the Tahoe Basin Area Plan and Tahoe City Lodge project, a redevelopment lodging project that aims to use the regulatory provisions and incentives that are part of the area plan. The Tahoe Basin Area Plan is a blueprint to restore the environment and revitalize North Shore communities. It is scheduled to be considered by the TRPA Governing Board for possible adoption in January 2017, and would be the fourth area plan put in place since the December 2012 approval of the Lake Tahoe Regional Plan.
Congress Passes Lake Tahoe Restoration Act
In December, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives passed the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act, authorizing up to $415 million in future federal funding appropriations. That federal funding will help leverage local, state, and private sector funding to maintain and build on the progress of the Lake Tahoe Environmental Improvement Program, one of the nation’s most ambitious and successful environmental restoration and conservation programs.
November: Appeals Court Upholds TRPA Regional Plan
The federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco in November issued a unanimous ruling in support of TRPA’s 2012 Regional Plan. The ruling ended several years of litigation by the Sierra Club and Friends of the West Shore, groups that sued TRPA after the landmark plan’s adoption in December 2012.
October: Threshold Evaluation Report Released
The 2015 Threshold Evaluation Report found the Lake Tahoe Basin’s environment saw continued improvement over the last four years, as indicated by an assessment of 178 threshold standards in nine categories: Air quality, water quality, soil conservation, vegetation, fisheries, wildlife, scenic resources, noise, and recreation. This was the second threshold evaluation to undergo an independent scientific peer review. The evaluation also included a new analysis of Lake Tahoe’s streams that found pollution from rural upland streams is decreasing as the watershed recovers from the historic impacts of grazing, logging, and other damaging activities.
September: Best in Basin Awards Presented
TRPA recognized nine projects completed in 2015 through its Best in Basin awards program. The nine project implementers recognized with awards built bike paths and a bike park, improved energy efficiency at the Granlibakken Tahoe resort, restored streams and wildlife habitat, reduced stormwater pollution, and restored the Angora Fire burn area.
August: Obama Headlines Lake Tahoe Summit
Organized by U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, the 20th annual Lake Tahoe Summit featured President Barack Obama as keynote speaker. Making his first-ever visit to Lake Tahoe, Obama praised the many years of work and collaboration that have gone into conserving and restoring Lake Tahoe’s environment, and said such efforts go hand in hand with combating climate change. “When we protect our lands, it helps us protect the climate for the future. So conservation is critical not just for one particular spot, one particular park, one particular lake, it’s critical for our entire ecosystem,” Obama said. TRPA also published a special summit edition of Tahoe In Depth, highlighting the challenges Tahoe faced in 1997 when former President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore attended the first Tahoe summit, and work that has been done over the last two decades to make the lake a healthier, more resilient place.
July: Interactive Bike Map for Tahoe Basin
The Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition unveiled a new, interactive, online map for bicycling around the Lake Tahoe and Truckee region. The map provides bike route directions and elevation profiles, allows users to report unsafe conditions and collisions, and make requests for bike parking at popular gathering spots that lack bike racks. The Lake Tahoe Bike Coalition developed the interactive online map with funding and support from TRPA’s On Our Way grant program.
June: Think First – Keep Tahoe Fire Safe
Helping mark Wildfire Awareness Month at Lake Tahoe, TRPA and other members of the Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team launched the Think First—Keep Tahoe Fire Safe campaign. Funded through a CAL FIRE grant, the Think First campaign ran from June through October, reminding people they need to help prevent wildfires while enjoying the great outdoors at Lake Tahoe, and reminding residents they need to create defensible space on their properties and have evacuation plans in place to be prepared for the next wildfire.
May: Hack Tahoe Event
TRPA and the non-profit group Code for America’s local brigade, Hack Tahoe, partnered to work together on ways to enhance government effectiveness through better use of technology. Held at the new Tahoe Mountain Lab, the event focused on ways to improve permitting, outreach, and the sharing of public information.
April: Lake Spirit Awards Presented
TRPA recognized four people with Lake Spirit Awards for their strong passion and personal commitment to preserving Lake Tahoe’s environment. The agency recognized: Ben Fish, president of the Tahoe Area Mountain Bike Association and Bijou Bike Park Association for his volunteer work helping hundreds of people build and maintain bike trails around the lake and the Bijou Bike Park. Cyrus Miller, an Eagle Scout who helped organize the removal of 730 feet of rusty old pipe on the lakebed just south of Tahoe City. Beth Quandt, science program coordinator for the Lake Tahoe Unified School District, who is lead organizer for the South Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition and has helped implement hands-on outdoor science education in local schools, reaching thousands of local students. And Lisa Wallace, executive director of the Truckee River Watershed Council, who for 20 years has worked to protect, restore, and enhance the Truckee River Watershed, implemented hundreds of projects, led thousands of volunteers, and help foster new public-private partnerships.
March: Active Transportation Plan Approved
TRPA’s Governing Board adopted the 2016 Active Transportation Plan. The plan identifies high-priority upgrades needed around the Tahoe Basin to help communities continue to improve transportation options for bicyclists and pedestrians. Part of the forthcoming Regional Transportation Plan, the plan also identifies best practices for road and intersection designs, actions communities can take to improve safety and mobility and build trails and complete streets that better serve everyone. 2016 also saw significant progress in bike trail construction, with an overhaul of the Kingsbury Stinger Trail, completion of the one-mile Homewood Bike Trail, and the start of construction on a three-mile trail that will link Incline Village to Sand Harbor State Park.
February: Epic Winter Adventure
Through a new Epic Winter Adventure educational program spearheaded by TRPA and other basin partners, 305 fifth-grade students strapped on snowshoes to explore and learn about the winter habitat overlooking Lake Tahoe at the Top of the Tram at Heavenly Mountain Resort. Students learned about avalanches, the techniques animals use to survive harsh winter condition, how to identify animal tracks, and the science of snowmaking. Funding for the program was provided through the Vail Resorts EpicPromise grant. The program was designed in collaboration with Heavenly Mountain Resort, Lake Tahoe Community College, Lake Tahoe Unified School District, Sierra Avalanche Center, South Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition, Tahoe Institute for Natural Sciences, and U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.
January: $3 Million Awarded for Fuels Reduction
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management approved more than $3 million for projects to help reduce wildfire risk and improve forest health in Lake Tahoe communities, funding made available through the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act. The funding will support hazardous fuel reduction projects around the lake, a top priority for TRPA and other members of the Tahoe Fire and Fuels Team after five years of drought.