San Francisco, Calif. – The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency today defended its landmark 2012 Regional Plan to restore Lake Tahoe’s environment in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco in oral arguments against a lawsuit by the Sierra Club and the Friends of the West Shore organization.

“We are confident the court will find our Regional Plan is based on sound science, planning, and analysis. It represents the best path forward for TRPA to accomplish its mandate to restore Lake Tahoe’s environment and make our communities more sustainable,” said Joanne S. Marchetta, executive director at TRPA.

Sierra Club and Friends of the West Shore filed their lawsuit against the Regional Plan shortly after the TRPA Governing Board adopted it in December 2012. U.S. District Court Judge John Mendez found the lawsuit to have no merit and dismissed it entirely in April 2014, prompting the groups to appeal his ruling to the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The 2012 Regional Plan is the first comprehensive update to environmental protections at Lake Tahoe since 1987. TRPA adopted the plan after an extensive environmental review and years of public input from more than 5,000 citizens, including members of Sierra Club and Friends of the West Shore.

Leaders of California and Nevada and local communities, environmental groups, businesses, scientists, educators, Tahoe’s congressional delegation, and tourism and health advocates have heralded the Regional Plan as a major step forward for continued environmental restoration and community revitalization at Tahoe, and as a symbol of the broadest consensus ever achieved at Tahoe.

Despite the distraction of this pending litigation, TRPA continues to implement the Regional Plan. Several communities around the lake have adopted area plans that implement its goals at the local level, including the City of South Lake Tahoe, California, and Douglas County, Nevada. Other communities are continuing work to prepare and adopt local area plans.

The 2012 Regional Plan retains Lake Tahoe’s caps on development capacity and strengthens environmental protections. The plan offers redevelopment incentives for projects that remove harmful legacy development from environmentally sensitive areas such as marshes, meadows, and stream zones. The plan incentivizes restoration of those areas through transfers of development into town centers to make more walkable, bikeable, mixed-use communities.

The Regional Plan’s goal is to restore Lake Tahoe’s environment and revitalize communities through multiple-benefit redevelopment projects that reduce water and air pollution, restore wildlife habitat and ecosystems, enhance public recreation opportunities, and revitalize local communities. Such environmental restoration and smart-growth policies are strongly supported by Sierra Club at the national level.

“We are optimistic the court will affirm TRPA and its many partners in the region are on the right track to restore and conserve the Jewel of the Sierra and its natural treasures for all future generations to enjoy,” Marchetta said.

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 Tom Lotshaw, Public Information Officer, at 775-589-5278.