Annual confab a chance to underscore Tahoe commitment |

Annual confab a chance to underscore Tahoe commitment


RENO, (AP) – This month’s Lake Tahoe Summit is a chance to review progress in halting the lake’s decline – and to remind the Bush administration of the $300 million commitment to the lake’s clarity, according to Sen. Harry Reid.

”That’s why we want them to participate,” Reid said.

Reid, D-Nev., and Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., will host the summit Aug. 21 to commemorate passage of the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act that resulted from the first summit, attended in July 1997 by President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore.

Before leaving office, Clinton signed a bill into law Nov. 13 that authorizes spending $300 million over the next 10 years for environmental projects to stem the lake’s decline.

But before any money can be spent, it must be appropriated by Congress.

”I spoke to the head of the Forest Service this week. I spoke to the head of the Agriculture Department, to Christine Todd Whitman.

”I want to show them it’s not my deal. It’s bipartisan – Ensign believes in it also. Both of us feel it sends a good message,” Reid said.

Whitman, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, is committed to attending the meeting.

”She’s wanted to come to Nevada since the first time I talked to her before she was confirmed,” Reid said. ”We’ve had this in mind a long time and she never hesitated.”

Others scheduled to participate in the summit are Army Corps of Engineers Lt. Gen. Robert Flowers, U.S. Geological Survey Director Charles Groat and administrators of the Forest Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service.

The summit will feature demonstration projects aboard a research vessel, workshops and presentations focusing on the government’s role in protecting the lake.

Reid engineered the 1997 summit to focus national attention on the threats to the Tahoe Basin’s fragile ecosystem, from erosion and air quality concerns caused by tourism and development to the beetle-infested forests that encircle the lake.

Since Clinton signed the authorizing bill last year, $22.6 million of this year’s $30 million have been earmarked, according to Reid spokeswoman Tessa Hafen.

A $20.6 million allocation is included in the Interior budget, which is headed for conference committee, and $2 million is contained in an energy and water bill that’s awaiting action in the Senate.

The remaining $7.4 million is expected to be added to other budgets, she said.

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