Environmental summit a touchstone for Pathway 2007 | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Environmental summit a touchstone for Pathway 2007

Andrew Pridgen

Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Secretary Gale Norton, U.S. Department of the Interior, commits $37 million to the Lake Tahoe Basin during the Lake Tahoe Forum at the Ponderosa Ranch in 2004. Looking on are, from left, Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn and Sens. Harry Reid and John Ensign.

Future plans for Pathway 2007 – a four-agency road map for the future of Lake Tahoe’s social, economic and environmental planning – will be discussed as a part of Sunday’s environmental summit in Kings Beach.

Some agency officials believe feedback from the public on Sunday will be key to the project’s continued success. Others think that announcements from Nevada Sens. John Ensign and Harry Reid as well as California Sen. Dianne Feinstein will shape the project as it enters its most critical phase.

Others said the summit marks another year gone by and for the first time an overall feeling of deadline pressure.

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency spokeswoman Julie Regan said she’s caught word of a possible “noteworthy announcement” from elected officials – which could directly impact Pathway 2007.

Regan said all elected officials have been tight-lipped this week, and Jack Finn, spokesman from Sen. Ensign’s office confirmed that.

“I wish I could tell you more, but there will be some news out of this office that should positively impact (Pathway 2007),” Finn said.

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Along with TRPA, the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, Nevada Division of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Forest Service are the principal partners in Pathway 2007.

Regan said deadlines “are out there” but she thought this weekend’s summit will be more of a “check-in for all involved agencies.”

“We want to share how we’re doing business with elected officials and (people in) the communities,” Regan said.

Representatives from Pathway 2007’s other partners echoed the TRPA spokeswoman’s sentiment.

“I think what we’ll be looking for is recognition from both elected officials and the public that (Pathway 2007) is a valuable tool and part of a basin-wide approach to achieve lake clarity,” said Rex Norman, spokesman for the Forest Service, Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. “We are about a third of the way through our process with (Pathway 2007). The summit will be a good opportunity to get this thing moving forward – and to see if we’re on the right track.

“We’re starting to look at real deadlines and we need to get it right.”

Since TRPA is the only regulatory agency involved with Pathway 2007, representatives from the other three principals said they will continue to work together, develop individual plans and wait to see TRPA’s results.

Regan said a final draft from TRPA will be officially released that fall.

“We’ll be getting close to having the environmental document certified at (the 2007) summit,” Regan said. “It will include what kind of building and development will take place in (the basin) over the next 20-plus years; the kind of regional plan for lake clarity; and the vision for (communities).”

A panel to discuss Pathway 2007 will convene at 11:45 a.m. Sunday. Panelists slated to appear include: Irene Davidson, forest plan revision team leader, with the Forest Service; TRPA Executive Director John Singlaub; Jennifer Merchant, Placer County spokeswoman; Harold Singer, Lahontan spokesman; Leo Drozdoff, Nevada Division of Environmental Protection spokesman.

Cindy Petterson, a spokeswoman from the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, said her agency’s new-found awareness of transportation issues is just one example of how Pathway 2007 is already working.

“You realize everyone’s actions bring about change and impact clarity,” Petterson said. “If there’s something people can take away from this planning process it’s that everything an individual does impacts something else. The different agencies are discovering the same thing.”

Norman of the forest service said the project has already given his agency the opportunity to work with different groups – and even secure additional funding because of it.

“Through our portion of the planning we’ve already worked with all local fire districts, to match up community plans with our work,” Norman said. “A purpose and a result was to make Tahoe communities competitive and (secure) funding from the Healthy Forest Restoration Act.”

The Forest Service will have a draft report complete this fall and may be the first agency to submit such a document, Norman said.

“(The draft) will be released at the end of September,” Norman explained. “The report’s going to wrap together what we’ve done since last December: Visioning exercises, survey work and technical working groups (have) all taken place. The next step is going to be how we get there – that will come after Sept. 30.”

In the meantime several agency representatives said they look forward to the “renewed commitment” Sunday’s summit will bring.

“From Pathway 2007, to where we are with fire and fuels, to fire-risk progress, to transportation to water quality – we realize during (the) summit we are all in this for the same reason.”