Pathway 2007 moves from vision to reality | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Pathway 2007 moves from vision to reality

John Singlaub

This fall, Pathway 2007 is kicking into high gear with an aggressive schedule of collaboration, planning and participation. Pathway 2007 is the cooperative effort of Tahoe agencies working together to create a 20-year vision for the Lake Tahoe Basin.

It’s important to consider our successes under the current 20-year regional plan. In the 1960s, projections called for the Lake Tahoe area to be a city of nearly 800,000 people. One obvious success is that we have retained the mountain character of the communities around the lake. Lake Tahoe is known throughout the world as a special place that balances the natural and man-made environments. Pathway 2007 will become the model to provide us with a clearer, more unified vision for planning Tahoe’s future. The next regional plan will guide all future development, natural resource priorities and environmental protection measures for the next 20 years.

Unprecedented participation

The four Pathway 2007 agencies – TRPA, Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, Nevada Department of Environmental Protection and USDA Forest Service – previously revised their long-range plans independently of each other. Seeing the need to streamline the agencies’ regulations, the Pathway 2007 process involves each agency updating their next set of regional plans in a collaborative way while incorporating public input throughout the process.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency has embarked on an unprecedented step in the planning process by reaching out to local governments. Planning teams are being formed to make sure each community around the lake can define its unique character for the future. We recognize the vision of the residents of Incline Village are different from those of South Lake Tahoe or Tahoe City. That’s why TRPA is working with all the jurisdictions around the lake to design a system to bring people together at the local level to keep our regional plan flexible enough to maintain your community’s individual character.

A citizen’s advisory committee – called the Pathway Forum – is another important link to the community. The Forum was formed in late-2004 and has been meeting for nearly a year discussing ways to maximize the public’s involvement in the planning process. The 40-member group, comprising stakeholder representatives from local, regional and national communities around the lake, is the public’s direct link to the four Pathway agencies as plans are formulated. A list of forum members and their interests may be found at http://www.Pathway2007.org.

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Forum members are now in the process of making recommendations to the Pathway agencies on environmental goals, standards and measures of success. This is an important step in ensuring management plans are well rounded, adaptable, and practical to Lake Tahoe’s future.

What is the forum working on now?

The forum meeting in September covered the subject of air quality. The air we breathe affects not only our human health but also our environmental health. Air pollution can hurt the lake’s water quality and can affect wildlife and other values. Next month the forum will be looking at transportation and vegetation issues. Improving our transportation system is critical to reducing auto emissions at Lake Tahoe, which will in turn improve air and water quality. Vegetation issues are of great importance to the community, especially our future efforts to prevent catastrophic wildfires at Lake Tahoe.

The forum will continue its work this fall and into the winter making recommendations to the Pathway agencies based on an evaluation report to be released next week. The report covers all resource areas including water quality, fish and wildlife, recreation, socioeconomics and others. The document, which will be available on the Pathway Web site after Sept. 30, will look at the desired conditions for these areas and how to measure progress toward achieving goals over the next 20 years.

Who to contact

Restoring Lake Tahoe’s water clarity is a local and national priority, and there are a number of agencies and individuals working toward that goal. As I have said before, charting the course of the lake’s future is a democratic process, so if you have ideas for what Tahoe should look like in 2027, the Forum members are the people you want to reach to share your ideas. In addition, as local agencies embark on plans for each community, we encourage your further involvement.

Pathway 2007 is a community involvement strategy which combines public input with interagency cooperation to create truly collaborative environmental management plans. The lake belongs to all of us. Now is your chance to influence its future. The next Pathway 2007 Forum meeting will be held Oct. 20 at Embassy Suites hotel on the South Shore. For a complete list of forum members, meetings and locations and for more information, visit http://www.Pathway2007.org.

– John Singlaub is executive director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.