Operation Sierra Storm, a national meteorological forum held annually in South Shore, kicked off its presentation segment Thursday with a discussion on local sustainability efforts and the area’s battle with climate change.
Julie Regan, chief of external affairs at Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, led the opening presentation at Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel, where she touched on Lake Tahoe’s environmental history and the work that has gone into preserving it.
One of the biggest efforts made has been toward improving lake clarity.
“The lake has been declining in clarity,” she said, “and with global climate change we have increased threats and pressures related to that.”
Agencies began to suspend the decline after 2000, but about $1 billion is needed for the TRPA to reach its goal of obtaining 80 feet of clarity and holding it for 15 years.
To do this, the agency has identified stormwater runoff as the problem and has, among other things, installed erosion-control measures to reduce the amount of sediment flowing into the lake.
It has also led efforts in reducing harmful vehicle emissions by promoting other transportation, keeping invasive species out of the lake by performing continuous boat inspections and decreasing the chances of large wild fires by thinning Tahoe’s forests, Regan said.
“Our environment is our economy at Lake Tahoe,” she said. “So where we have a story to tell to the rest of the country, it really folds up in that key message around all of us living here loving this lake.”
Later in the day, some of the 20 or so meteorologists and journalists at the forum walked over to Heavenly Village where Jeff Tilley, of the Desert Research Institute, talked about a new cloud-seeding drone.
Cloud seeding is a controversial method of weather modification, sometimes used in spurring precipitation from clouds, Tilley said.
Some people believe the silver iodide particles used in the process are harmful to others or the environment, but Tilley disagrees.
“We’re trying to clear up the misconceptions about cloud seeding,” he said of coming to OSS. “We think that the more (people) know, the more they understand it’s a good thing.”
OSS continues today with public presentations by Virgil Welch of the California Air Resources Board and Bill Collins of UC Berkeley. The presentations begin at 7:45 a.m. at Harrah’s South Shore room and end at 10 a.m.