Federal advisory committee convenes
New faces joined the Lake Tahoe Federal Advisory Committee for 2015 along with returning ones at its first meeting on Monday.
The 20-member committee draws from various interest groups, local and state governments that have stakes in and around Lake Tahoe. It offers advise and suggestions to the U.S. Forest Service on matters related to the Lake Tahoe Basin.
Some of the 20 seats are chartered seats for the states of California and Nevada, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the Washoe Tribe.
Forest Supervisor Jeff Marsolais, acting as the federal officer for the committee, noted that past groups have done a lot when advising the Department of Agriculture and other federal agencies on needs specific to the Basin, such as aquatic invasive species.
“This committee has high potential through collaboration with each other and through meetings to provide feedback to all the federal agencies that operate in the Lake Tahoe Basin,” Marsolais said.
Members for the 2015 committee include: Joanne Marchetta, TRPA’s executive director; Patrick Wright, executive director for California Tahoe Conservancy; Jim Stewart, Nevada’s State Lands Division executive officer; Alonzo Rusk representing gaming interests; Amy Berry representing environmental interests; Darcie Goodman-Collins representing national environmental interests; Tom Fortune representing ski resorts; Heather Bacon representing North Shore economic and recreation interests; Robert Hassett representing South Shore economic and recreation interests; Steve Teshara representing resort associations; Katherine Strain representing education; Natalie Yanish representing property rights advocates; Alan Heyvaert for science and research; John Pang for California local governments; Douglas Martin for Nevada local governments; Robert Cook for labor interests; Peter Kraatz for transportation. David Santana and Katherine Hill represent the public at large.
Marsolais said that the Washoe seat was vacant because of recent change in the tribe’s leadership. He said the Washoe was given an opportunity to re-select its representative to the advisory committee.
The new committee received a briefing on past actions as well as goals for the next two years. Some things include the continued discussion and decisions on aquatic invasive species and possible projects that come out of the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act (SNPLMA), which provided $300 million to the Lake Tahoe Basin as part of the federal government’s share of the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act.
SNPLMA passed in 1998, authorizing the Bureau of Land Management to sell public land around Las Vegas. Proceeds went to fund various environmental improvement projects, to the Nevada General Education Fund and the Southern Nevada Water Authority.
Jim Lawrence, representing the state of Nevada, highlighted that the SNPLMA provided a large portion of funding for Lake Tahoe restoration and environmental improvement projects. Its funding has waxed and waned, especially after the real estate bubble burst in 2008.
Steve Teshara, a longtime committee member, said the committee was a group of stakeholders who has made some important recommendations in spending and environmental improvement planning to the Department of Agriculture.
Teshara added that since Lake Tahoe Restoration Act expired and has attempted to be renewed by Congress, the committee has a chance to engage the community and policymakers.
The committee also set its priorities for the next several meetings, including updates on aquatic invasive species, outreach, briefings on the various federal agencies operating in the Lake Tahoe Basin, and selection of a committee chair.
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