New Tahoe research center poised to open |

New Tahoe research center poised to open

INCLINE VILLAGE (AP) – Scientists studying Lake Tahoe are eager to move into a new, state-of-the-art research facility.

The Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences will open this month on the campus of Sierra Nevada College and represents a partnership of public and private institutions in three states.

“It means for the first time we’ll have a world-class facility,” said Charles Goldman, director of the University of California Davis’ Tahoe Research Group. “We’ve been working for decades in Third-World conditions.”

Goldman, who has studied Tahoe for 47 years, said scientists have been relegated to using an old fish hatchery as their base of operations. John Steinbeck briefly worked feeding fish at the hatchery while he wrote his first novella in 1929, “A Cup of Gold.”

The aging building will become the staging area for field research on the lake while the center provides the space and equipment to develop ways to preserve its pristine waters and address restoration issues in the Tahoe Basin, said Geoffrey Schladow, a UC Davis civil and environmental engineer and director of the Tahoe Environmental Research Center that is part of the Thomas J. Long Foundation Education Center.

In the last three decades, Lake Tahoe’s clarity has decreased by about 30 feet, he said.

“So it went from where you could see down 100 feet to where you could only see down to 70 feet,” he said. “It’s still one of the clearest lakes in the world, one of the most beautiful lakes. But if that trend were to continue, in another 30 years it would start to be just one more lake. It would lose its uniqueness, what takes people’s breath away when they drive over one of the summits and into the basin.”

The center will feature an interactive interpretive center where the public also can learn about Lake Tahoe and the science used to preserve it and the Tahoe Basin, Schladow said.

It also has educational and research uses, providing profiles of the lake and the aquatic life that exists at different depths.

When SNC begins its fall semester Aug. 21, the opening of the center will mark a defining moment for the college, said Richard Rubsamen, chief financial officer.

“The prominence it will give Sierra Nevada College as an institution will be gigantic,” he said. “This is the first real full-mission program using a stand-alone dedicated academic building. It gives us an attractive incentive for partnering opportunities.”

The center is a collaboration among SNC, UC Davis, the University of Nevada, Reno, and Desert Research Institute.

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