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Keep Tahoe, Baikal Blue

The Tahoe-Baikal Institute knows it takes the whole world to tackle global issues.

Eight students from the U.S., seven from Russia, one from Mongolia and one from Japan are participating in the Tahoe-Baikal Institute. They are studying factors contributing to environmental deterioration at Tahoe.

They will stay at Tahoe until July 20, when the group travels to Lake Baikal in Siberia to study for five weeks.



Lake Baikal is a large alpine lake, similar to Lake Tahoe. Also like Tahoe, Baikal faces potential contamination, which has a detrimental effect on the lake’s clarity and wildlife.

The participants hope by studying the methods other countries use to combat environmental deterioration, they can formulate a more comprehensive method of dealing with such problems.




“It is just getting the idea of the area and it is part of the program of the preservation of both lakes,” said Russian Program Coordinator Galina Angarova. “It is a part of the program to see how things are different and similarities in Lake Tahoe and Lake Baikal.”

The Tahoe-Baikal Institute participants arrived in Tahoe June 24. One of their first activities was an aerial tour of lake Tahoe with the help of Light Hawk Aviation.

Light Hawk is a nonprofit group in San Francisco that provides flights for environmental survey and assessments around the western United States. Marlow Schmauder, director of development and communications for Light Hawk, said the aerial tours are ideal for the Tahoe-Baikal Institute.

“Our goal is to provide a perspective of the environment and we want the people who are making (environmental) decisions to be informed,” Schmauder said. “The folks who are participating in this program hopefully will remain in the environmental sector and hopefully they will use the knowledge they gain here later on.”

Gaining a place among the collection of international participants in the Tahoe-Baikal Institute is a competitive process. The majority are in their mid-20s and are pursuing graduate degrees.

“The participants are selected based on the research interest they have,” Schmauder said. “One of the big criteria is commitment to the environmental sector and the likelihood that they will become leaders in that sector.”

Participant Sergey Shatunov of Russia said he feels the program will have a positive effect on international environmental issues.

“We will understand everyone better mixing culture,” Shatunov said. “I think it will be profitable for both countries. Many participants will be able to say to everyone what they saw and protect nature. The planet will benefit.”


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