Conferences to precede presidential summit |

Conferences to precede presidential summit

Patrick McCartney

The Presidential Summit on the environment, to be held at Lake Tahoe in late July, will be preceded by three cabinet-level conferences in the area, federal officials disclosed Friday.

Scheduled at Lake Tahoe’s north and south shores and in Reno, the conferences will each focus on a piece of the Sierra Nevada’s environmental mosaic. The Reno conference will address transportation and air quality issues, while water quality will be the focus of one Tahoe Basin conference, and forest restoration, recreation and economic issues the topics of a second Tahoe conference, officials said.

Federal officials will solicit testimony from regional interests on those issues affecting the Sierra Nevada, said Jennie Backus, an aide to Nevada Sen. Harry Reid.

“Breaking the summit up into individual conferences on the issues will allow everyone to sharpen their message to the federal government,” Backus said. “The separate conferences will maximize the opportunity for Tahoe residents, businesses and other stakeholders to get their message across.”

Plans drafted by the two committees coordinating the presidential summit call for each of the pre-conferences to be hosted by a cabinet secretary, or a deputy secretary. So far, the secretaries of transportation, agriculture and the interior have been named as possible hosts for the conferences, but other agencies could end up participating as well, said Linda Massey of the U.S. Forest Service’s Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.

Of the three conferences, only the date June 25 for the Reno conference has been tentatively scheduled, Backus said.

Other decisions regarding the presidential visit to Lake Tahoe the last weekend in July have yet to be made, she added. Planners have recommended that Vice President Al Gore preside over a working session on Saturday, July 26, with President Bill Clinton concluding the summit on Sunday with an address.

No decision has yet been made on whether Clinton will stay overnight, Backus said.

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