California, Nevada governors renew Tahoe commitment
In a ceremony that previews this week’s Lake Tahoe Presidential Forum, the governors of California and Nevada met in South Lake Tahoe Tuesday to formally renew their states’ commitment to the restoration of Lake Tahoe.
Gov. Pete Wilson of California and Gov. Bob Miller of Nevada signed an agreement that commits each state to shouldering a share of a $906 million list of projects to restore the Tahoe environment.
The governors signed the agreement at Heavenly Ski Resort, 28 years after Gov. Ronald Reagan of California and Gov. Paul Laxalt of Nevada approved a bistate compact that created the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.
“Preserving Lake Tahoe will be an enormous challenge,” Wilson said. “Beneath Lake Tahoe’s breathtaking beauty, its health is fragile, with enormous pressure on the earth, air, water and forests.”
Wilson recounted the efforts of the two states to preserve Lake Tahoe, an effort that has seen the two states invest $200 million in acquiring sensitive land, protecting wildlife habitat and reducing soil erosion in the Tahoe Basin.
“This morning we take another historic step forward,” Wilson said.
Miller also vowed to pursue Nevada’s share of funding for the $906 million Environmental Improvement Program, the 10-year blueprint for environmental projects hammered out by the TRPA.
“If we have the commitment and courage to follow this guide, the lake will thrive – as will the commerce that relies on the breathtaking beauty of the lake,” Miller said. “We must act swiftly and with passion to save Lake Tahoe.”
Miller added that the federal government will likely make its own commitment to Lake Tahoe at this week’s Lake Tahoe Presidential Forum.
“The Clinton Administration has sent us strong signals that every effort will be made in Washington to support our efforts and provide the necessary investment,” Miller said.
Wilson observed that the memorandum of understanding renews the support of Lake Tahoe by the Golden State of California and the Silver State of Nevada. He gestured to himself, Gov. Miller and then a representative of the Lake Tahoe Presidential Forum, and quipped, “Gold, silver … and cash.”
The agreement the two governors signed commits the states to help implement the improvement program, and to work with the various public and private partnerships that have evolved in the Tahoe Basin.
In a preliminary estimate of each jurisdiction’s share of the cost to accomplish more than 400 environmental projects, the TRPA indicated that California would shoulder $274.6 million of the $906 million cost over the next 10 years, while Nevada was expected to pay for $82 million.
The same draft study estimated the federal government’s share of the program at $296.8 million, private investment at $152.5 million and local jurisdictions at $100.9 million.
Improvements listed in the program are aimed at achieving the nine standards, or thresholds, established by the TRPA to measure the restoration of the Tahoe Basin environment. They are water quality, air quality, soil conservation, vegetation, fisheries, wildlife, scenic resources and community design, recreation and noise.
Stan Hansen, a Heavenly Ski Resort vice president and long-time advocate for the basin’s environment, thanked the two governors on behalf of the residents of Lake Tahoe.
“I’m so doggone proud of Lake Tahoe and the states of California and Nevada,” Hansen said. “We’re finally moving in the same direction.”
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