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Instructor to head federal advisory committee

Gregory Crofton
Dan Thrift/Tahoe Daily Tribune Betsy Julian
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A local earth science teacher has been appointed chairwoman of a committee that advises the federal government on how to spend millions of dollars earmarked for the Lake Tahoe Basin.

Betsy Julian, an instructor at Lake Tahoe Community College, is the chair of the Federal Advisory Committee, a group of 20 that represents a broad base of public interests in the basin and conducts public meetings about four times a year. Her appointment came at the committee’s meeting last month.

“I love the mountains and this place is so special it’s worth putting some energy into it,” said Julian, who holds a doctorate in geology.

Julian said she probably was appointed chair because she is an educator with no particular bent.

“I’m not quite friendly with the development camp or the preservationist camp, just sort of in the middle,” Julian said. “And I have a lot of leadership experience in different ways (plus) my science background.”

Part of the committee’s job is to recommend to federal executives which projects should be funded with the millions of dollars sent to Tahoe each year through the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act.

The act generates revenue through the auctioning of public land outside Las Vegas. The first installment of $37.5 million arrived in June.

Federal agencies in the basin expect to receive a similar installment for the next seven years as part of the federal government’s commitment to the Environmental Improvement Program. It calls for nearly $1 billion worth of environmental restoration in the basin to protect the fading clarity of Lake Tahoe.

“It’s a pretty big goal figuring out what to do with $30 million – how we can methodically, systematically and reasonably make those decisions,” Julian said. “And I’m new to the committee. I don’t know if that will be a drawback or a benefit. I have no preconceived notions. I’m sort of fresh to the whole experience.”

Julian will have some experienced planners such as Andrew Strain, vice president of planning and governmental affairs for Heavenly Mountain Resort, to lean on. Strain was appointed chair of the Tahoe Working Group, a subgroup of the advisory committee designed to focus on how the money from Southern Nevada gets spent. There is also a scientific peer review group which will analyze what the projects aim to achieve, Julian said.

The general public will have an opportunity in early April to comment on a list of projects the committee has determined that it wants to recommend for funding.

The Federal Advisory Committee’s next meeting, which is open to the public, is scheduled Feb. 2 at U.S. Forest Service Supervisor’s Office at 35 College Dr.

For more information, call Forest Service employee Jeannie Stafford at (530) 543-2642.


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