Commissioners question validity of federal program |

Commissioners question validity of federal program

Is the public citizens advisory body that addresses environmental protection of Lake Tahoe doing a good job?

The verdict isn’t out yet, but the Douglas County Commissioners on Thursday questioned the lack of progress the group has made.

The Lake Tahoe Federal Advisory Committee – commonly referred to as FACA because it was made possible by the Federal Advisory Committee Act executed by President Clinton’s 1997 executive order – was designed to partner citizens with the federal government.

“Let’s quit talking and start doing,” Don Miner, District 4 Commissioner told guest speaker Steve Teshara, spokesperson for the committee who gave the board a committee update.

Miner wants the committee to begin implementing the programs it’s been discussing like the 10-year Environmental Improvement Program which will cost an estimated $900 million, one-third of which is supposed to come from the federal government.

The EIP outlines Tahoe’s environmental restoration projects.

“My biggest fear is that in 10 years nothing will be accomplished,” Miner said.

“Can we honestly put our arms around anything tangible (that the committee has done)?” asked Steve Weissinger, District 1 Commissioner.

“It isn’t like we haven’t done anything,” Teshara responded. “The federal government with their significant ownership (of Tahoe land) should be a leader.”

Teshara said that the U.S. Forest Service was an obstacle.

“They are going to have to update their (1988) forest plan in the Tahoe Basin,” he said.

Teshara said steps have been made to promote Tahoe’s well-being. Efforts to reintroduce controlled burning, which reduces forest undergrowth, have accelerated. The forest service has hundreds of miles of roads that have begun to be retrofitted so they won’t erode and leak into the watershed or harm the lake’s clarity. Transportation solutions to U.S. Highway 50 have also been talked about.

“We need to dramatically accelerate our programs,” Teshara said.

He is hopeful that the recent passage of Proposition 12, will give Tahoe $50 million to put into park development, will help financial commitments to the Environmental Improvement Plan.

The committee should be able to help prioritize where federal dollars are spent. “We’re out there asking,” Teshara said.

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