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Nevada Tahoe plate a winner

Patrick McCartney

Maybe it’s the allure of Lake Tahoe’s cool waters in a state that’s mostly bone-dry.

Or perhaps it’s the eye-pleasing image of a mountain range reflected in a still lake.

Whatever the source of its appeal, Nevada’s only scenic license plate, with its image of an undisturbed Lake Tahoe, has become a hit among the state’s registered drivers.

“The registration folks say the response is quite amazing,” observed Kim Evans, a spokeswoman for Nevada’s Department of Motor Vehicles and Public Safety.

In less than two months since its Feb. 2 introduction, Nevada motorists have bought 1,157 of the Lake Tahoe environmental plate for the state’s 1.4 million registered vehicles. That exceeds initial expectations.

Benefiting from the plate’s popularity are environmental projects at Lake Tahoe. Each plate generates $25 for a Lake Tahoe fund administered by Nevada’s Division of State Lands, and sales have so far contributed $28,925.

“The money is important,” said Pam Drum of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. “Every additional dollar we can raise for environmental projects at Lake Tahoe is important. It’s also important that people are willing to wear on their sleeve, so to speak, support for environmental projects.”

Many of the plates have been purchased by Las Vegas residents, who seem to regard them as a touch of prestige, remarked Nevada state Sen. Mark James at a recent legislative oversight hearing on Lake Tahoe.

There’s no question that the symmetrical design by Reno graphic artist Greg Willison has captured the imagination of the state’s motorists, said the DMV’s Evans.

The first two customers were residents of Clark County, who drove 450 miles to line up at the DMV office on the morning when the plates first went on sale.

One reason for the plate’s appeal may be its status as Nevada’s only scenic plate. Other special plates, such as those for veterans, university alumnae and hot-rod owners, are only designated by numerals or an insignia added to the state’s regular plate.

In California, where drivers have a choice of three scenic plates, sales of the Lake Tahoe plate have lagged behind Nevada on a per-capita basis.

After more than a year of sales, 9,200 motorists have purchased the Tahoe plate for the state’s 26 million registered vehicles, said Evan Nossoff of California’s Department of Motor Vehicles. The number represents barely a third the rate of purchase by Nevada car owners in a much shorter period.

“What else do Nevada residents have to look forward to?” Nossoff groused.

But Californians have purchased 50,000 Yosemite plates, 13,000 plates with an image of a whale’s tail, and 800,000 personalized plates, which all generate money for environmental causes. The Tahoe plate alone produces $400,000 a year for Lake Tahoe environmental projects, with most of the money funneled to the California Tahoe Conservancy.

Tahoe Daily Tribune E-mail: tribune@tahoe.com

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