Letter to the editor- Hey, Claire, go take a hike
To the editor- Well Claire, you’ve begun to answer my question as to why the South Lake
Tahoe City Council consistently votes against the Lake Tahoe environment.
(See your opinion piece for Thursday, June 28, 2001 in the Tahoe Daily
Tribune.) In it you state that there is no “scientific proof” that
reconverting a straightened river back to a meandering river will reduce
erosion and thus improve Lake Tahoe’s clarity. Just a thought, but you know,
there is no “scientific proof” of a God either, I hope that doesn’t stop you
May I make a suggestion? Go take a hike. When (and if) you do, I’d like you
to notice something called “switchback trails”.
A “switchback trail” is a trail that meanders up a mountain. You may think
that the reason switchback trails were made was for people who have a hard
time walking straight up a mountain, and maybe to some degree that is true.
Society should be responsive to people who are less physically fit, but the
reason that switchback trails are so good is that they cause less erosion.
Let me explain to you how.
I don’t know how much “scientific proof” you need to understand this
concept but if you go on that hike please notice places where impatient
people have decided to take a shortcut straight up the mountain, crushing
vegetation as they do. Notice how rain and runoff wash away the soil quicker
on these shortcuts. Now here’s something you might not know either. Lake
Tahoe is a “basin”. That means it is like a sink. Everything flows downhill.
The cause of this is “gravity”. (“Gravity” is something that is used by
scientists to explain why things fall, but there isn’t any “scientific
proof” as to how it works. I hope you don’t doubt it’s veracity and jump
from any places that are too high, you could injure yourself or anyone else
that might be under you.)
You may have heard the expression; “the shortest distance between two
points is a straight line”. I hope I don’t have to explain to you what that
means. I wish I could draw you a picture. The “geomorphologist” at the June
19th city council meeting had a beautiful drawing of what they wanted to do.
It showed a straight line where Trout Creek is now and then a beautiful
curvy line (if you happen to like curves) where they wanted to “move” the
creek. The straight line of how the creek is now represents the “shortest
distance”. You can translate shorter to quicker. I know this isn’t always
the case but in this case I think we could be safe to say it is true. If you
represent the start of Trout creek as point “A” and Lake Tahoe as point “B”,
you could say an object starting at point “A” of the straight Trout Creek
would reach point “B” quicker than if it followed the curvy path of the new
Trout Creek. I suppose if you didn’t care about Lake Tahoe’s environment you
could argue that point but then there are still
When something travels quicker, it also travels faster and with more force.
There is less resistance to it and it is able to carry with it things that
might not have moved if not hit with such force. (Which makes me think of
another “scientific” word, friction as well as inertia and momentum. But all
this “science” is getting tedious.) This is what causes erosion.
Which brings me to your “puddles” comment. It takes common sense and vision
to understand this but I’ll try and explain. The more “puddles” there are
between point “A” and point “B” the more chance there is for sediment to be
removed from water before it reaches point “B” (Lake Tahoe).
Here’s a thought. You probably drive a car and you probably buy new tires
for that car and new brake shoes also as the old ones wear down. Did you
ever wonder where the rubber and asbestos go that are worn away as you drive
around? No to mention the oil and gas pollutants. You mention air pollution
as part of the cause of the decline in Lake Tahoe’s clarity? Do you have any
solutions? Or will you just wait for someone to offer one and then shoot it
down as “unscientific”? Those “puddles” just might keep that (for lack of a
better word) crap out of Lake Tahoe’s water. But that would affect you only
if you liked swimming in it. For some people the Lake is just too cold.
You ask for “proof” that this project will do some good. All I can say is
that if the project gets completed it will be an attempt at removing one of
the possible causes of Lake Tahoe’s decline in clarity. It will be an
attempt at doing some good. But people like you and the city council who are
naysayers when it comes to trying to save Lake Tahoe from declining clarity
are really the problem, not just the Edgewood Golf Course’s fertilizer. (Or
the Tahoe Keys.)
Peter Van Peborgh
South Lake Tahoe
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