Summer Issue of Tahoe In Depth Has Arrived

Summer Issue of Tahoe In Depth Has Arrived

The 26th issue of Tahoe In Depth is hitting the streets and will be in mailboxes soon. Enjoy articles on the Motel 6 acquisition and restoration, reintroducing Lahontan cutthroat trout, Tahoe Blue Beaches, and many more.

Team Tahoe in DC to Support Renewal of Tahoe Restoration Act

Team Tahoe in DC to Support Renewal of Tahoe Restoration Act

Members of Team Tahoe on the steps of The Capitol, Washington D.C. See names below.

March 13, 2024

Lake Tahoe leaders, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) and partner agency staff, scientists, and representatives of the private, non-profit, and business communities attended a press conference March 13 in Washington D.C. hosted by U.S. Congressman Kevin Kiley (R-CA). The event was organized to show support for extension of the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act, which is set to expire in September of this year. Dubbed by the late U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein as Team Tahoe, the contingent of supporters united to visit legislators and share the importance of federal support to Lake Tahoe and its communities.

The Lake Tahoe Restoration Reauthorization Act provides funding for projects that support forest health, water for fire infrastructure, watershed restoration, water quality, aquatic invasives species control, Lahontan cutthroat trout recovery, and accountability. Since the Act’s passage in 2016, Lake Tahoe Environmental Improvement Program (EIP) partners have implemented hundreds of projects, substantially leveraged the federal investment with state, local, and private funding, and supported 1,700 jobs per year. To learn more, read the fact sheet that accompanied the team on their legislative visits.

Pictured from left to right:

Top/back row
University of Nevada, Reno, Tahoe Science Advisory Council

Dr. Sudeep Chandra, Director of the Global Water Center; past Co-Director of the Lake Tahoe Science Advisory Council; Professor, University of Nevada, Reno

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, City of South Lake Tahoe

Cody Bass, Governing Board Member, Mayor

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency

Devin Middlebrook, Government Affairs Manager

Barton Health, South Tahoe Transportation Management Association

Chris Proctor, Director of Community Benefit and Business Development

League to Save Lake Tahoe

Steve Spurlock, Board Chair

North Tahoe Public Utility District

Bradley Johnson, General Manager

USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit

Erick Walker, Forest Supervisor

USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit

Charles Clark, Legislative and External Affairs Staff Officer

Middle row
League to Save Lake Tahoe

Dr. Darcie Collins, Chief Executive Officer

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency

Kimberly Caringer, Chief Partnerships Officer/Deputy Director

Lake Tahoe Community College

Laura Metune, Senior Director of Government Relations and Grant Development

Tahoe Transportation District

Carl Hasty, District Manager

Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California

Serrell Smokey, Chairman

League to Save Lake Tahoe, South Tahoe Transportation Management Association

Gavin Fieger, Policy Director

Tahoe Fund

Caitlin Meyer, Chief Programs Officer

Bottom/front row
Sustainable Community Advocates

Steve Teshara, Principal

League to Save Lake Tahoe

Laura Patten, Natural Resources Director

South Tahoe Public Utility District

Shelly Thomsen, Director of Public and Government Affairs

North Tahoe Public Utility District

Sarah Coolidge, Board President

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, Placer County

Cindy Gustafson, Governing Board Chair, County Supervisor

Douglas County

Sharla Hales, County Commissioner

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, Washoe County

Alexis Hill, Governing Board Member, County Commissioner

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency

Julie Regan, Executive Director

Not pictured
Tahoe Regional Planning Agency

Meghan Hayes, Governing Board Member, U.S. Presidential appointee

The Call to Protect Lake Tahoe Echoes Across the Nation

The Call to Protect Lake Tahoe Echoes Across the Nation

By Julie Regan

Lake Tahoe has protectors just about everywhere in this great nation. Last week, TRPA representatives joined a coalition of Lake Tahoe supporters in Washington D.C. to urge the extension of a key piece of legislation that has been pivotal in Lake Tahoe’s preservation. The Lake Tahoe Restoration Act is set to expire in September of this year, putting a major source of federal funding at risk.

Nevada and California local elected officials, tribal leaders, TRPA board members, and public and private organizations gathered for meetings with members of Congress and the Biden Administration to stress the urgency of continuing to protect Lake Tahoe. “Team Tahoe” succeeded in drawing national attention to our numerous challenges, from historical environmental impacts to emerging threats posed by climate change. The call to protect Lake Tahoe has echoed from these mountainsides, throughout Nevada and California, and across America to bring attention to one of the country’s most treasured landscapes.

Lake Tahoe suffered severe environmental damage before strict protections were enacted under the first Lake Tahoe Regional Plan. In 1997, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) joined many public and private partners to launch the Environmental Improvement Program, or EIP. Under the initiative, more than 800 projects have been completed thus far to protect water quality, reduce the threat of wildfire, combat aquatic invasive species, improve transportation and trails, support science and research, and much more.

The historic announcement this week that the California Tahoe Conservancy is acquiring 31 acres on the Upper Truckee River in South Lake Tahoe is a poignant example of the determination we all share to remove outdated development from sensitive lands. The Motel 6 site restoration is yet one more instance of strong partnerships and epic collaboration, the hallmark of the EIP which has become one of the most comprehensive conservation programs in the nation.

Partners have treated more than 94,000 acres of forest to reduce hazardous fuels, inspected 110,000 boats for aquatic invasive species, and improved and connected 200 miles of bike and pedestrian trails. Importantly, water quality improvements made by private property owners and public agencies are keeping more than 600,000 pounds of stormwater pollution out of the lake every year so that future generations can enjoy Lake Tahoe’s world-famous stunning clarity.

Funding for the EIP comes from every sector as well. With nearly 80 percent of the Tahoe Basin a national forest, federal funding through the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act has been crucial to our progress. Since 2016, the act has provided more than $110 million and leveraged four times that amount in state, local, and private funding. For example, TRPA supported the California Tahoe Conservancy’s Motel 6 acquisition with $3.5 million in mitigation fees collected from thousands of private property owners who contributed to water quality funds through the TRPA permit process. This leveraging of public and private restoration dollars is a key strength of the EIP. With the Restoration Act set to expire in September, urgent action is needed to extend the legislation and continue the arduous work ahead. Lake Tahoe’s congressional delegation is steadfast in its support to fight for the lake amidst competing priorities in the nation’s capital.

While we can celebrate significant progress under the EIP, it is imperative to recognize much more needs to be done, especially in the face of climate change. As the lake warms and the region is beset by more extreme weather events, we must increase the pace and scale of forest resilience projects to reduce wildfire risk, accelerate projects to upgrade water systems for firefighting, and ramp up the fight against aquatic invasive species. To continue improving the lake’s extraordinary clarity, more projects are needed to restore meadows and wetlands and reduce stormwater pollution. In addition, fostering a sustainable population of Lahontan cutthroat trout in the watershed is essential to restore the native ecosystem and is of great importance to the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California.

The breadth of support Lake Tahoe has received over the years shows clearly that none of these challenges are insurmountable. Partnerships at every level are crucial to continue Lake Tahoe’s restoration journey. Together, we can ensure a sustainable future for Lake Tahoe and our communities. For more information on the Environmental Improvement Program, visit eip.laketahoeinfo.org.

 

Julie Regan is Executive Director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.
Historic Land Acquisition Will Protect Upper Truckee Marsh and Lake Tahoe

Historic Land Acquisition Will Protect Upper Truckee Marsh and Lake Tahoe

Partners celebrate the drive to remove development from environmentally sensitive land to restore the Upper Truckee River and protect Lake Tahoe’s clarity.

 

South Lake Tahoe, Calif.—The California Tahoe Conservancy joins with its funding partners—the California Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB), Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA), California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), Tahoe Fund, and League to Save Lake Tahoe—to announce the Conservancy is acquiring 31 acres of environmentally sensitive land along the Upper Truckee River in South Lake Tahoe.

“This environmental acquisition may be the most important in a generation to protect Lake Tahoe,” said California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot. “By reconnecting the most important wetland that filters water flowing into the Lake, this investment protects the Lake’s precious water quality and also provides an important corridor for local wildlife. This project demonstrates the great value of the California Tahoe Conservancy, to work diligently over years—sometimes decades—to see important environmental improvements to fruition.”

“We are grateful to our funding partners for making this possible,” said Conservancy Board Chair Adam Acosta. “This historic acquisition of the Knox Johnson and Motel 6 property achieves a decades-old goal and brings one of the last privately held sections of the river corridor under public ownership.”

About the land acquisition

  • 25 acres of mountain meadow and wetlands.
  • 4 acres of former floodplain.
  • One-third of the Lake Tahoe Basin drains into the Upper Truckee River.
  • 96 percent of the lower section of the Upper Truckee River is in public ownership after this purchase.
  • 6 funding sources including nonprofit donations and permit mitigation fees.
  • Connects hundreds of acres of public marsh and meadow lands.

This Conservancy acquisition includes 25 acres of mountain meadow and wetlands, a two-acre single-family homesite, and four acres of former floodplain. Lake Tahoe lost nearly 30 feet of its famed water clarity following the development boom of the 1950s and 60s and damage to the Lake’s natural water filters. The four acres of floodplain is now occupied by Motel 6, a vacant restaurant building, and a paved parking area. The property also abuts the Conservancy’s 560-acre Upper Truckee Marsh property to the north. Tahoe Resource Conservation District’s (Tahoe RCD) 206-acre Johnson Meadow property lies across U.S. Highway 50 to the south.

The Conservancy will remove the 1970s-era motel and vacant restaurant and retire or transfer the property’s development rights and coverage for future use on town center redevelopment. The Conservancy will preserve the surrounding mountain meadow and wetlands. The acquisition presents opportunities to restore wetland habitat on the newly acquired property itself as well as future restoration at the Upper Truckee Marsh.

“This landmark acquisition shows the incredible progress coming from collaborative partnerships we have been building for more than 50 years,” said Julie Regan, executive director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. “Today, the Lake Tahoe Region is taking a giant step forward in improving lake clarity and increasing public access for all.”

Healthy functioning wetlands act as a natural pollution filter for Lake Tahoe, preserving its famed clarity. In the Upper Truckee watershed, EIP partners have completed many projects over decades to restore streams, rivers, wetlands, floodplains, and wildlife habitat. This acquisition amplifies the value of past restoration projects, while allowing the Conservancy and the adjacent public landowner partners, such as Tahoe RCD and the USDA Forest Service, to closely coordinate future ecosystem restoration and management efforts. TRPA provided nearly $3.5 million in water quality and land coverage mitigation fees for the acquisition. These development mitigation fees collected through the TRPA permit process represent thousands of private property owners who are aiding the initiative to restore sensitive land and limit development under the Regional Plan.

The land protected by this acquisition is part of the homeland of the waší∙šiw (Washoe people—the people from here). The waší∙šiw are the aboriginal stewards of the land in and around the Lake Tahoe Basin. As a sovereign nation, the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California, as it is known today, continues to advocate for the protection and preservation of waší∙šiw ɁítdeɁ (the Washoe people’s homelands).

“The Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California is supportive of the incredible work being done by the Conservancy,” said Washoe Tribe Chairman Serrell Smokey. “The Conservancy has been a great partner and their work to protect, preserve, and re-establish healthy ecosystems within the Tahoe Basin should be celebrated. Addressing decades of overdevelopment in very delicate and fragile ecosystems, such the Upper Truckee, is not something that happens overnight. While we celebrate this as a huge victory for the Tahoe Basin, it is also important to acknowledge that this will have profound and far-reaching impacts as we continue to imagine a healthy future for the Tahoe Basin with Washoe Culture and Peoples at the center.”

Acquiring the property protects its critical wetland and meadow habitat, while presenting future opportunities to improve climate resilience and public access and to restore the river corridor for Lake Tahoe’s largest tributary.

Read more…

2023 Annual Report Released

2023 Annual Report Released

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency presented its 2023 Annual Report to the Governing Board at its regular monthly meeting today. The agency made major strides last year in addressing many of the biggest challenges facing the Lake Tahoe Region. The vision of the Bi-State Compact that came forward 55 years is reflected in the annual progress report.

“The vision that took shape 55 years ago when the states of Nevada and California came together to preserve and protect Lake Tahoe is reflected in this report,” writes Executive Director Julie Regan. “The Lake Tahoe Regional Plan is building partnerships, restoring environmental quality, and harmonizing communities with our incredible surroundings.”

Open the report here.

South Tahoe Students Explore Winter Science

South Tahoe Students Explore Winter Science

Environmental Coalition Elevates Science Learning at Heavenly Mountain Resort

 

Heavenly Ski Patrol demonstrates how they train the avalanche dogs, and what they do to protect people on the mountain. Credit: Lily Summerville, South Tahoe Refuse

South Lake Tahoe, CA – Two hundred and seventy middle school students are delving into the realms of science, snowmaking, winter wildlife, and snow safety this week at Heavenly Mountain Resort with a coalition of environmental educators. This Thursday will mark the culmination of the tenth year of this immersive, snowshoeing educational experience for local students, the South Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition (STEEC) said today.

“Don’t tell my teachers, but yeah, this is way better than school,” said one eighth grade student at South Tahoe Middle School, who wishes to remain anonymous. “Until today, I had no idea I could take classes in high school first aide and go to college here for free to get my Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certificate to be a ski patroller at Heavenly.”

Generously supported by a grant from Vail Resorts EpicPromise, this collaborative winter adventure program by STEEC brings together professionals from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, Lake Tahoe Unified School District Career Technical Education team, Heavenly Mountain Resort, Tahoe Institute for Natural Science, Sierra Avalanche Center, Sugar Pine Foundation, USDA Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, South Tahoe Refuse, the City of South Lake Tahoe, and South Tahoe Public Utility District.

Students practice measuring trees from afar using best practices taught by the Sugar Pine Foundation. Credit: Victoria Ortiz, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency

“Taking the classroom outside, these field trips educate and connect students with their alpine backyard, making scientific concepts easily accessible through hands-on sensory learning,” said Victoria Ortiz, event organizer and community engagement manager with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

This marked the tenth year STEEC has offered the field trip, although in previous years the program was geared toward fifth grade students. Over the course of two days, every South Tahoe Middle School eighth grader will ride the Heavenly aerial tram to the top of the mountain, where they split into groups and rotate between interactive stations.

Tasha Thomas (center) with Sierra Avalanche Center teaches students how to discern the shapes of the snow crystals and the protocol used in the backcountry to test the snowpack. Credit: Victoria Ortiz, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency

Students learn about winter animal adaptations, how to measure trees, and how to discern the shapes of snow crystals. They also meet Heavenly’s avalanche rescue dogs. Ski patrollers explain how they train the dogs, and then treat students to a demonstration of how they dig out someone buried by an avalanche.

“This program is one of many that STEEC organizes throughout the year,” said Alissa Zertuche, career technical education specialist for Lake Tahoe Unified School District. “We’re grateful to all of our partner organizations for creating curriculum that aligns with science standards and brings science to life!”

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The South Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition is a collaborative network of more than 20 local agencies and organizations with an aligned mission to bring environmental education resources to Lake Tahoe youth by providing high quality environmental and outdoor education programs. For additional information, contact Jeff Cowen, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Public Information Officer, at (775) 589-5278 or jcowen@trpa.gov.