At the 2017 Lake Tahoe Summit on Tuesday, state and federal leaders praised the successes that have come out of two decades of bipartisan collaboration to conserve and restore Lake Tahoe’s environment, and rededicated the Tahoe Partnership to continue that progress and protect the lake from climate change.
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) hosted 21st annual summit at the Tallac Historic Site. Feinstein was joined on stage by Senators Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.); Congressmen Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) and John Garamendi (D-Calif.); Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval; former Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt; and Joanne S. Marchetta, executive director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.
Speaking about climate change and its impacts at Lake Tahoe, Feinstein implored the public to help protect the lake and its environment. “Find an organization, contribute to the private sector efforts if you can. Volunteer, become informed, give us your ideas and give us your thoughts.”
Rep. Garamendi said, “If we are to protect this basin, this lake, this incredible place we call Tahoe, and indeed the globe we call our home, then we must dedicate ourselves to doing all that is necessary to address climate change and our role as human beings in creating this crisis.”
Over two decades, local, state, federal, and private sector partners in the Tahoe Partnership have invested $2 billion into lake-saving projects through the Lake Tahoe Environmental Improvement Program.
Partners have completed 500 projects to reduce stormwater pollution that harms lake clarity; thin forests to reduce wildfire risk and improve forest health; protect the lake from aquatic invasive species; restore streams, wetlands, and wildlife habitat; and improve recreation opportunities.
Federal lawmakers in December passed the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act of 2016. The legislation authorizes up to $415 million in federal funding to help that conservation and restoration work continue over the next seven years.
“Lake Tahoe’s resilience over the years should not be taken for granted,” Sen. Heller said. “We all have a history of coming together to do what’s best, and we will continue to come together and be successful in finding innovative efforts to ensure Lake Tahoe remains a national treasure for years to come.”
Governor Sandoval touted the strong partnership between Nevada and California to protect Tahoe, highlighting Nevada’s work to reduce stormwater pollution and complete Environmental Improvement Program projects such as the new bike trail being built from Incline Village to Sand Harbor State Park.
“It really makes me proud to see everybody out here,” Sandoval said. “This is our home, and that is why you are here today. Because each one of us contributes in whatever way possible to what Mark Twain called, ‘The fairest picture the whole Earth affords.’ I thank all of you for what you do for this incredible place.”
Newly-elected Senators Cortez Masto and Harris praised the bipartisan collaboration at Tahoe and the successes it has generated, and vowed to continue to strengthen those partnerships and fight for clean energy, the environment, and public lands.
“Hearing all of these achievements, it’s easy to feel as though we’ve done enough,” Cortez Masto said. “Yet the theme of today’s summit, a pivotal point for the future of Lake Tahoe, makes clear we still have more to do.”
Babbitt, the summit’s keynote speaker, said he sees Keep Tahoe Blue stickers everywhere he travels in America, from Phoenix to Chicago.
“This place, this magical place, is a national treasure by virtue of your efforts,” Babbitt said to other summit speakers and to the audience. “It has come not from the top down, but from the bottom up. It’s an incredible example that we ought to emulate all over America. And I would only say, keep it up.”