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Lake Tahoe viewpoints revealed

A survey answered by more than 300 people who know about environmental policy at Lake Tahoe Basin indicates traffic congestion, fire risk and declining water quality are the most severe problems of the region.

Issued last winter by the UC Davis Center for Environmental Conflict Analysis, the survey was filled out by 356 people of the 657 who received it.

About 70 percent of those who took the survey were men; about 50 percent were government officials; and about 40 percent were scientists or engineers. More than 44 percent of the people surveyed own a primary residence at the basin.



The results are being compared to three other similar surveys that date to 1970. A meeting will be scheduled at the basin in November or December to discuss changes in the surveys.

The Center for Environmental Conflict is expected to deliver another report comparing the surveys before that meeting is held.




Findings:

Lake Clarity:

24 percent said atmospheric deposition is the greatest source of nutrients that feed algae in Lake Tahoe.

23 percent said erosion caused by developed land and highways is the greatest source of nutrients that feed algae in Lake Tahoe.

Management:

n 33 percent strongly agreed that best way to manage the Lake Tahoe watershed is to allow consensus-based negotiations.

n 41 percent strongly opposed the best way to manage the Lake Tahoe watershed is to allow private property owners to manage their land as they see fit.

Influence:

n People surveyed said the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, followed by the gaming industry and Lahontan Regional Quality Control Board, has the most influence at the basin.

Policy proposals:

n 37 percent strongly agree with policy that would limit auto use in favor of public transportation.

n 25 percent strongly disagree with policy that would create an auto use fee or road toll for all visitors.

n 39 percent strongly agree with policy that would allow a half-cent sales tax in the basin to provide money for public transit systems.

n 25 percent strongly agree with policy that would allow strict architectural controls so that building conforms with the environment.

n 32 percent strongly agree with policy that would allow the tearing down of structures considered aesthetically unattractive as part of a redevelopment program, for example, in South Lake Tahoe.

Some general results:

n 45 percent strongly agreed the basin is a resource of importance that should be subject to state and federal involvement.

n 54 percent agreed water pollution can and must be reduced below its present level.

n 25 percent strongly agreed reducing forest fire risks requires cutting small and medium trees near urbanized area.

n 38 percent strongly disagreed reducing forest fires by thinning forests will have a negative impact on visual resources.

— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at gcrofton@tahoedailytribune.com


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