Cabinet officer to sign basin pact |

Cabinet officer to sign basin pact

Patrick McCartney

Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman will fulfill a commitment to Lake Tahoe made by President Clinton in July, when he signs an agreement Wednesday that formalizes the federal promise to restore Lake Tahoe.

Glickman will preside over a 9 a.m. public signing ceremony aboard the MS Dixie II paddle-wheeler at Zephyr Cove.

Glickman is the chairman of the Tahoe Federal Interagency Partnership, a panel created by a Clinton executive order at the Lake Tahoe Presidential Forum in July to coordinate the activities of the six principal federal agencies active in the Tahoe Basin.

At Wednesday’s ceremony, Glickman will sign an agreement that spells out how the federal government intends to fulfill its commitment to Lake Tahoe. Also signing the document will be representatives of California and Nevada, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California.

He will also present a package of specific goals for the federal agencies to accomplish over the next few years. Called deliverables, the plan fleshes out the $26 million in aid and projects President Clinton promised during his July visit to Lake Tahoe.

According to Chris Knopp, who was responsible for fine-tuning the deliverables for the Forest Service’s Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, the package will contain no surprises.

“In the presidential forum, we had these one-liners about what the deliverables were and a promise that the feds would follow through,” Knopp said. “The deliverable package that Glickman will bring puts meat on the bones; it explains what it means and exactly how they intend to do it.”

A draft of the detailed program was sent to Washington Thursday morning for final comment.

The package includes 26 actions addressing Lake Tahoe’s water quality, forest health, transportation and the need to coordinate federal efforts in the basin.

Some of the proposals, such as a commitment to subsidize the replacement of South Lake Tahoe’s wastewater export line, were already close to a done deal before the president’s visit.

Others, however, such as support to the Tahoe Research Group for computer modeling Lake Tahoe’s water quality and a $2.6 million Forest Service assessment of the basin’s watersheds, were new initiatives announced at the forum.

The memorandum of agreement to be signed Wednesday commits the federal government to support the TRPA’s goal to achieve nine major environmental goals, or thresholds. As part of its commitment, the federal government will support the agency’s Environmental Improvement Program, an ambitious list of nearly 500 projects designed to achieve the nine thresholds.

The estimated cost of the program is nearly $1 billion over 10 years, of which the federal government would be expected to fund about $300 million.

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