Nevada Legislature approved measures improving Lake Tahoe basin
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) – While some Tahoe residents are disappointed they got no tax relief from the 2001 Nevada Legislature, lawmakers did approve several measures aimed at preserving the scenic Tahoe area.
”It was a productive session,” said Sen. Dean Rhoads, chairman of Senate Natural Resources. ”It’s important that (the Legislature) and agencies keep correcting past mistakes and hanging on to rigid conservation policy.”
Assemblywoman Marcia de Braga, chairwoman of the Assembly Natural Resources, Agriculture & Mining Committee, agrees that the state needs to keep pushing restoration and preservation projects in the Tahoe basin.
”Lake Tahoe is not only a treasure to the state, but to the whole country,” said de Braga, D-Fallon. ”It’s important to preserve it for everybody, so that people can enjoy it forever.”
The failed tax relief measure, AB668, would have provided a temporary cap of 6 percent a year on some Tahoe property tax hikes to help longtime residents with small, older homes who are seeing their tax bills skyrocket. The bill died in the Senate – one vote shy of the 11 needed for approval.
But four other measures dealing with the Tahoe basin did pass – most of them supporting environmental improvement programs.
”It’s like so many other things in this country – we started dealing with the problem after we realized we had the problem,” said de Braga, outlining her concerns about development, contaminants and erosion at the lake.
”It’s not just man-made pollution we’re concerned about. There are a lot of nature factors we don’t have control over that we have to worry about,” she said.
At an elevation of roughly 6,000-feet, Lake Tahoe is known as the ”Lake of the Sky.” It’s one of the largest, clearest high-mountain lakes in the world, with a length of over 21 miles, width of 12 miles and depth of 1,645-feet.
Lake Tahoe straddles the Nevada-California border and is controlled by the bistate Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.
All of the major measures relating to Lake Tahoe were proposed by a legislative study committee that oversees activities in the Tahoe basin, and were backed by Gov. Kenny Guinn’s administration.
AB177 provides for continued bonding to finance projects identified in the regional planning agency’s $908 million Environmental Improvement Program.
The measure authorizes $16.2 million in general obligation bonds for the upcoming biennium.
”There are so many areas of abuse in the Tahoe area,” said Rhoads, R-Tuscarora. ”AB177 helps us deal with eyesores. We’ve done a wonderful job in the last 20 years but there’s more to be done.”
TRPA spokeswoman Pam Drumm said the measure allows for environmental improvement projects to get done – such as erosion control, storm water treatment projects, stream environment zone restoration projects, forest health and wildlife habitat enhancement projects and public recreation.
Another bill affecting the Tahoe basin is AB176, specifying that grants may be used for environmental projects on publicly or privately owned property. The state land registrar must ensure that the money is only used for public purposes and that the public interest is protected.
”It’s not like someone can use it to do landscaping,” said de Braga.
Also, AJR4 was adopted by the Legislature, commending the state of California and the California Tahoe Conservancy for environmental improvement activities in the basin.
The resolution commends California for already providing about 57 percent of its $275 million share of funding for the environmental improvement program.
”Both states share the lake, so both have to do their share,” said de Braga. ”California has been great. There isn’t the amount of businesses on its side that we have, so there’s less pollution on that side. Still, California has been very cooperative.”
Lawmakers also approved ACR5, calling for continuation of the legislative committee that oversees the Tahoe programs. The panel has existed for 15 years.
”If Nevada doesn’t pay attention, the feds are going to step in,” said Rhoads. ”The local people know the tasks that need to be accomplished and it’s better we do it than having some people 3,000 miles way calling the shots for us.”
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