Committee rolls up its sleeves |

Committee rolls up its sleeves

The ball has started rolling, so to speak.

While time at the first meeting of the Lake Tahoe Basin Federal Advisory Committee was largely occupied with procedural activities to get collaborative efforts moving, officials are confident the formation of the group will lead to good things.

“I really expect the next one to be substantial in getting involved in the issues,” said Jim Baetge, executive director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and a member of the advisory committee. “We have to if we’re going to be productive in getting things accomplished.”

Members of the newly, formed 19-member committee met with the Lake Tahoe Basin Executives Committee, a group of the federal players in the basin: The U.S. Department of Transportation, Natural Resource Conservation Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Forest Service. The advisory committee is supposed to represent Lake Tahoe’s public and includes members representing the skiing and gaming industries, environmental and economic organizations and more. It includes two at-large seats occupied by residents representing no particular agencies.

“My hope is that we are able to consolidate and characterize the issues and reach a consensus on what needs to be done,” said Duane Wallace, executive director of the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce and the South Shore economic/recreation representative on the board.

The committee was formed in December as a result of President Clinton’s Executive Order of July 26, 1997, which called for the creation of a public citizens advisory body to address protection of the environmental and economic health of the Lake Tahoe Region.

Clinton came to Lake Tahoe to call attention to the threat to Lake Tahoe’s clarity, which diminishes by more than a foot a year.

Baetge said the committee will help find solutions to the problem by finding ways to implement the Environmental Improvement Program. Created by TRPA, the EIP outlines the actions that need to be taken within the next 10 years to save Lake Tahoe. The cost is expected to be $900 million, of which one-third is supposed to come from the federal government.

“The EIP sets forward precisely what needs to be done,” Wallace said. “My goal in this process is to find a way to get the federal agencies to work together to carry through on funding the programs.”

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