Environmental summit revisited | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Environmental summit revisited

Susan Wood

Federal officials plan to descend on the South Shore next month for an environmental summit to review Lake Tahoe’s clarity and the status of the money earmarked to save it.

It will be held at the Zephyr Cove Resort on Aug. 21 at 11a.m.

U.S. Sens. Democrat Harry Reid and Republican John Ensign, along with Congressman Jim Gibbons and Gov. Kenny Guinn, both Republicans, are expected to join U.S. Environmental Protection Agency head Christie Todd Whitman for speeches and research demonstrations to possibly evaluate the lake’s recent clouding, Reid’s office confirmed Friday.

Also confirmed, representatives from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and the Geological Survey plan to make the trip.

U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, both Democrats from California, were unconfirmed as of Friday.

The federal government is coming off the major victory of having won the approval, by a key Senate committee, of nearly $23 million for environmental projects in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

The stepped up appropriations represent a big leap from the $14 million President George W. Bush had originally allocated in his $1.35 trillion budget plan to go toward the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act.

The bill, introduced by Feinstein and Reid, vows to bring $30 million a year over the next decade to pay for rehabilitation projects. It represents a critical component of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s $908 million Environmental Improvement Program.

The EIP came together as a collaborative effort by the private sector and local, state and federal governments to fund projects with the aim of stabilizing the clarity of the lake by 2007.

Studies have shown that Tahoe has lost its remarkable transparency at the rate of 1 foot each year for the past three decades.

Restoration funds would go to a variety of places including: water quality and erosion control projects as well as road upgrades and land acquisitions.

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