Nevada to commit $56 million to Tahoe |

Nevada to commit $56 million to Tahoe

B.H. Bose

Raising funds for environmental projects in the Tahoe Basin is usually an arduous task. With a bill that will soon be going before the Nevada Legislature, that difficulty could become approximately $56 million easier.

The Legislative Commission’s Committee to Continue the Review of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency on Friday unanimously approved the idea of drafting a bill that will provide $56.4 million in funding for environmental projects for the next 10 years.

The bill will go before the 1999 session of the Nevada Legislature, and with the committee’s endorsement, odds are it will be passed.

“This committee has been very successful moving bills through the Legislature,” said Pam Drum, TRPA spokeswoman.

Seeing an immediate need to implement projects that will protect Lake Tahoe, the committee’s focus in recent years has been getting environmental projects completed. The Presidential Forum was a catalyst in the state’s desire to switch from a planning mode to one of action, and an outline of specific projects was compiled.

Funding for these projects, which comprise the Environmental Improvement Program, will come from California, Nevada, the federal government, local governments in the basin and the private sector. Both states and the federal government have agreed to a 10-year commitment for the implementation of these projects.

As part of the Lake Tahoe EIP, Nevada has agreed to provide $82 million, California $275 million, and the federal government $297. Nevada voters approved a bond issue in 1996 that will raise $20 million, said Drum, and another $6 million is expected to come through the Nevada Department of Transportation. Thus, the bill to go in front of the Nevada Legislature in 1999 should essentially take care of the Nevada commitment, Drum said.

As for California, Gov. Pete Wilson’s Tahoe Initiative, which will provide approximately $103 million, is already going through California legislation.

“From what I have heard, the Tahoe Initiative hasn’t hit too many hurdles,” Drum said.

With the approval of the bill, the committee that reviews the TRPA will also create a Fund to Protect Lake Tahoe. The fund will be administered by the Division of State Lands, and grants to local governments and state agencies will be available. Administrators with state lands will submit funding requests identifying the specific projects to legislators every two years, and funding will be appropriated accordingly.

Jim Baetge, executive director of TRPA, briefly listed the improvement projects the bistate organization is currently involved with. Starting on the East Shore, east of Incline Village, they are: Memorial Point; Round Hill Square; the Prim Project; a casino core drainage project; Heavenly Master Plan; Meeks Lumber Center Relocation; Washoe Cultural Center; Tahoe City improvement project; Lakeside Bike Trail; Kings Beach improvement project; Brockway Grade; and the North Shore Casino Project.

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