Photo: 2023 Lake Spirit and TRPA Staff pictured (from left) are TRPA Community Engagement Manager Victoria Ortiz, Roland Shaw, Lila Peterson, Jean Diaz, Heidi Doyle, Don Lane, and TRPA Executive Director Julie Regan.


Lake Tahoe, CA/NV – The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) on Wednesday recognized six individuals who have shown exceptional commitment to protecting Lake Tahoe as this year’s Lake Spirit Award winners. The recipients this year include one North Shore and one South Shore recipient for each of the three categories of Citizen, Agency Representative, and Lifetime Achievement, the agency said today.

Since 2011, TRPA has celebrated the Lake Spirit Awards to recognize individuals in our community, exemplary citizens, and agency representatives who not only demonstrate a strong commitment to Lake Tahoe’s environment, but also model a spirit of collaboration.

“A spirit of care and protection has run with Tahoe’s land and waters starting with the Washoe Tribe millennia ago,” TRPA Executive Director Julie Regan said. “By going above and beyond for the lake and our communities, these individuals truly embody the Lake Spirit. We are grateful for their innovation and commitment.”

This year’s awardees are:


  • Helen Neff, “Take It Slow, Tahoe” campaign, citizen leader on traffic safety in the region, North Shore.
  • Lila Peterson, Vail Resorts/Heavenly Mountain Resort, waste diversion, composting, and zero-waste program coordination, South Shore.

Agency Representatives

  • Heidi Doyle, Sierra State Parks Foundation, stewarding and fundraising for California State Parks in Lake Tahoe, North Shore.
  • Jean Diaz, St. Joseph Community Land Trust, providing non-profit, donor-supported affordable housing, South Shore.

Lifetime Achievement

  • Roland Shaw, Nevada Tahoe Resource Team, 48 years in fuel reduction and forest resilience projects, North Shore.
  • Don Lane, USDA Forest Service, 50 years as backcountry manager with the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, South Shore.

More on the Lake Spirit Award winners:

Heidi Doyle was one of the first female park rangers hired by the state of California in 1980. After 32 years serving mostly the State Parks in and around Lake Tahoe, she went to work with the Sierra State Parks Foundation, raising millions of dollars to reinvest back into the Sierra Parks. The foundation has been recognized nationally as a model organization for public/private partnerships.

Jean Diaz is Executive Director of St. Joseph Community Land Trust, which recently constructed and sold three full-ownership affordable homes to three families in South Lake Tahoe. The homes are owned by the purchaser and can be re-sold at an affordable rate, but the land remains with the trust. St. Joseph is also a general partner with Related California for development of the 248-unit Sugar Pine Village Project in South Lake Tahoe that will see first-phase construction this year.

Helen Neff has come forward as a leader on traffic safety in the Tahoe region in the past year. After being hit by a car and suffering serious injuries, Neff got to work improving pedestrian safety in Tahoe. She reached out to Take Care Tahoe about creating a traffic safety campaign, which she funded herself. This led to the launch of the Take it Slow, Tahoe campaign in June of 2022. Take it Slow signs are now placed around the basin and on a billboard seen you approach Tahoe from Carson City. Free Take It Slow, Tahoe yard signs are available throughout the region this year thanks to Neff. Contact or call (775) 588-4547 to pick up a sign today.

Lila Peterson spent the 2022/2023 winter season at Heavenly Mountain Resort identifying waste streams that her department contributes to and worked tirelessly to find solutions. On her own initiative, Lila implemented programs to keep used uniforms out of the landfill, installed a Lomi™ smart composter in the employee center, recycled several pallets of plastic wrappers, organized Blue Crew trash clean ups of neighboring streets impacted by ski resort traffic, created a clothing drive to help employees get better winter clothing, and volunteered to lead the resort in implementing a zero-waste program.

Roland Shaw joined the Nevada Tahoe Resource Team in 2003, after a 30-year career with the USDA Forest Service, where he led fuel reduction and forest enhancement projects. Shaw successfully and safely conducted the first ever 100-acre prescribed in the Tunnel Creek area near Incline Village, Nevada. He helped design and lead the 300 plus-acre Spooner Landscape Resilience Project around Spooner Lake basin, which offset costs through timber sales and used helicopters to reduce impacts to sensitive areas.

With 50 years of service, Don Lane is one of the longest-serving USDA Forest Service staff in the nation. Over his decades of service, he has connected countless numbers of people to the outdoors working for the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit maintaining recreation sites and managing crews that patrol Desolation Wilderness. Famous for his colorful storytelling and long-running radio show, Lane brings history to life and inspires everyone to be a steward of the Tahoe Basin.


The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency leads the cooperative effort to preserve, restore, and enhance the unique natural and human environment of the Lake Tahoe Region, while improving local communities, and people’s interactions with our irreplaceable environment. For additional information, contact Jeff Cowen, Public Information Officer, at (775) 589-5278.