Erosion-control holdouts being sought for project |

Erosion-control holdouts being sought for project

Annie Flanzraich / North Lake Tahoe Bonanza
Jim Grant / Tribune file photo Basin homeowners are expected to carry out best management practices, or BMPs, prescribed by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to reduce the amount of sediment running into Lake Tahoe. Such practices include mulching or retaining soils around homes and infiltrating stormwater runoff.

In the Lake Tahoe Basin, the letters “BMP” can bring about various reactions.

Short for “best management practices,” BMPs are methods prescribed by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency to help developed properties function more like natural, undisturbed forest and meadowland. The TRPA believes that water conveyed to a lake by an undisturbed watershed usually is quite pure, because the watershed’s soils and plants act as a natural water-purification system.

BMPs prescribed for residential properties usually fall into the following categories: vegetating and mulching bare, disturbed soils; infiltrating stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces; paving dirt driveways and roads; and stabilizing or retaining steep slopes and loose soils.

But for some of the 38,000 property owners in the basin who have not retrofitted their land for BMPs, the requirements can be harsh and expensive.

So, Kamila Pawlik, a graduate student in the environmental journalism program at the University of Nevada, Reno, is working on a project to help officials and homeowners who haven’t implemented their BMPs communicate.

“The aim of this project is to help community listening, collaborative planning and problem-solving,” Pawlik said. “A similar project has not been done before in the Tahoe area; therefore, this experiment benefits both the public and journalism.”

As part of her project, Pawlik plans to gather five specialists and five homeowners to have a discussion about BMPs. Specifically, she is looking for homeowners who have not done their BMPs and are opposed to doing them for various reasons.

“I want people who haven’t implemented their BMPs talking to officials,” she said. “I want to have people who disagree so that there’s a conversation happening.”

Pawlik already has some officials who have agreed to participate, including members of the TRPA’s Erosion Control Team and various environmental groups. However, she still is looking for homeowners who have not implemented their BMPs to participate.

Getting people to communicate and hopefully create solutions is core to Pawlik’s studies, she said.

“In environmental interactive journalism, you’re trying to build a community understanding,” she said. “BMPs are one of the main things to work on in terms of solving a public problem.”

Anyone interested in participating in Pawlik’s study can contact her at or (775) 223-4112.

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