Agencies have clear goal for Lake Tahoe |

Agencies have clear goal for Lake Tahoe

Andy Bourelle

Two agencies involved in scientific work are getting ready to make a historic agreement that should help all organizations in the basin collaborate to preserve Lake Tahoe’s clarity, officials said Thursday.

The University of California, Davis and U.S. Geological Survey are working to compile all of the Lake Tahoe Basin stream monitoring data available and perform a joint analysis of the information.

“(The deal is) done. It’s just a matter of dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s,” John Reuter, researcher for the UC Davis Tahoe Research Group, said Thursday at the second Lake Tahoe Basin Research Symposium.

Reuter and Jon Nowlin, chief of the USGS Nevada district, said the idea for the collaboration came from the first research symposium held in October 1998.

Historically research agencies have had different agendas, and collaboration has been largely absent in the basin. However, facilitated by the 1997 Presidential Summit at Lake Tahoe and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s completion of the Environmental Improvement Program, there has been a push by all agencies to work together to save Lake Tahoe’s clarity.

USGS and UC Davis plan to take all of the stream monitoring data from their agencies as well as others. TRPA, the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, University of Nevada, Reno, U.S. Forest Service, Natural Resource Conservation Service and several other agencies are expected to be involved. The data can help researchers determine how stream loading affects Lake Tahoe, and it should help planners determine ways to help preserve the clarity.

“I think it’s something we absolutely need to have up here,” Reuter said. “USGS, TRG, TRPA and several other agencies have been involved with loading of nutrients from streams since the 1980s. I think both the GS and UC agree that there is a wealth of untapped information there.”

What makes the collaboration historic is that apart, rather than together, is how research agencies typically work.

“I think the real significant thing is the agencies coming together, pulling together, to address issues with a common focus,” Nowlin said. “That’s not the historical way of doing things.”

The symposium was held Wednesday evening and most of the day Thursday. It was the second of four planned symposia. Stemming from the presidential visit, the meetings are supposed to be a forum for officials to share information, discuss research needs and collaborate on planning further research.

While the first symposium was supposed to allow all agencies the opportunity to learn what everyone else was doing, this week’s symposium as well as the next one are intended to help establish a framework to help unify the efforts, said Jane Freeman, Lake Tahoe Basin coordinator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“We’re trying to determine how do we do this? How do we put together a framework for the next eight to 10 years?” she said.

Besides the USGS/UC Davis agreement, other collaborative efforts are under way. According to Carl Hasty of TRPA, the most notable of those efforts is a watershed assessment currently being compiled by several agencies as well as motorized watercraft research that was completed last year.

“That was something unique. That was a focused (issue) that brought several different institutions together to focus on one problem,” Hasty said.

Nearly 200 people attended the two-day event.

Unfortunately, Freeman said, a large majority of those attending the symposium were research or government agencies. Members of the public were noticeably absent.

“How do we get the public involved?” Freeman said. “I guess that’s something we haven’t figured out how to do yet, but I think that’s part of what we’re trying to build into this.”

One member of the public who did attend the symposium, however, was South Tahoe High School teacher Jamie Greenough.

In teaching local environmental issues to her students, Greenough said she has closely followed the work being done at Tahoe. She said she feels Tahoe officials are on the right track with the symposia.

“Every meeting I go to I see more collaboration and more barriers being broken down,” she said.

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