North Shore land may return to Washoe |

North Shore land may return to Washoe

Legislation that would transfer land in the Lake Tahoe Basin to the Washoe tribe for cultural purposes has passed the Senate.

Nevada Sens. Harry Reid and John Ensign announced Wednesday passage of the legislation in a joint press statement. This legislation was introduced by Reid and Ensign earlier in the year and was passed by a House committee in September.

“Transferring this land to the Washoe tribe will allow the tribe to preserve their rich history and cultural identity in a place that holds great significance,” Reid, a Democrat, said. “For centuries, the tribe preserved and protected Lake Tahoe, and with the passage of this legislation, a portion of that land can be returned to their possession.

“I am still hopeful that this bill could make it through the House this year. If it doesn’t, I am confident that the Washoe tribe will receive this land in the 108th Congress.”

Washoe Tribe Chairman Brian Wallace was unavailable for comment Wednesday.

The Washoe Tribe Lake Tahoe Access Act directs the secretary of Agriculture to transfer 24.3 acres of U.S. Forest Service land located just north of Skunk Harbor on the North Shore to the Washoe tribe for traditional and customary uses, but prohibits commercial, residential or recreational development.

“Restoring this land to the Washoe tribe so they can conduct cultural and religious practices is important,” Ensign, a Republican, said. “It will give the tribe a place to conduct their services on land where commercialization and development are already prohibited and will continue to be prohibited.”

The legislation is a result of the 1997 Presidential Forum at Lake Tahoe which brought together federal, state and local government leaders to address Lake Tahoe protection. One of the goals of the forum was to support the traditional and customary use of the Lake Tahoe Basin by the Washoe tribe.

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