Lodging Association gets lessons about lake clarity
Keeping Tahoe clear is everybody’s business, was the message heard Thursday at the South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association Board of Directors.
Dr. Charles Goldman, head of the University of California Davis Tahoe Research Group, presented an overview of his 40 years of research to find causes and cures for the lake’s decreasing clarity.
“Everybody loses if the quality of Tahoe goes down,” Goldman said. “Tahoe would become just another lake.”
He emphasized the need for good science to drive public policy.
“Sometimes perception is not always reality,” he said, noting that some factors that have been considered absolutely detrimental have proven to be otherwise and vice versa. He gave the example of piers. Originally thought to be harmful to fish habitat, they turned out to be beneficial.
The declining clarity of the lake was first noticed in the 1960s with the appearance of a slimy lake bottom due to algae growth, he said. Official clarity measurements began in 1967. Since then, the clarity of the lake has declined at an average rate of a little more than a foot per year.
“If we project the decline to the year 2030, we have a very ordinary lake,” he said.
Currently, the researchers creating a model of the lake ecosystem to better predict the outcome of various environmental mitigation efforts.
“The lake has recovery capabilities,” Goldman said. “The question is, what can we do to slow down the gradual eutrophication – or greening – of the lake?”
The Tahoe Research Group hopes to expand its capabilities by constructing a permanent, modern research and educational facility.
Dr. Charles Soderquist, former regent for the university, described the the former fish hatchery in Tahoe City where the group now works as a “Third World” building.
The proposed facility will take $12 million, of which $5.5 has been raised.
To increase awareness, the group will conduct public tours on the John LeConte research vessel during the summer.
In other lodging association business:
n Cindy Armitage, spokeswoman for the North Tahoe Resort Association, reported that the revenues in February from the 1-800-AT-TAHOE central reservations number “were 18 percent over the highest BASS (Tickets) ever did in February.”
The association took over management of the central reservations number, owned by the Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority, just over a year ago.
Armitage said the abandonment rate in February was 21 percent, down by 14 percent from a year ago before the organization had increased the number of agents answering calls. Reservations increased by 51 percent compared to February a year ago; room nights were up 108 percent; and revenue increased by 70 percent.
n The next meeting of the South Lake Tahoe Lodging Association is scheduled for April 14 at 9:30 a.m.
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