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President plans Tahoe summit

Geoff Dornan, Nevada Appeal

President Clinton will visit Lake Tahoe this spring or early summer to convene a summit meeting of Nevada, California and federal officials to save the lake.

U.S. Sens. Harry Reid and Richard Bryan, both D-Nev., requested the summit last year. Reid announced the president’s decision Wednesday to a joint session of the Nevada Senate and Assembly.

“The lake is in real trouble,” he said afterward. “About half the trees up there are dead. Water quality is going downhill, literally, every year,” said Reid.

He said the issues range from transportation to a wide variety of environmental problems. And he said he believes Nevada and California needs to work more closely to manage the Tahoe Basin through the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

“California and Nevada have been doing things too much independently,” he said.

Bryan, in a separate interview, said the summit and the president’s visit will “help give national focus on one of nature’s gems.”

“The overall objective is to develop a grand strategy to protect Tahoe’s environment,” Bryan said.

Among the most important issues to be addressed is erosion control in the Tahoe Basin, he said.

“That is the principal factor in the declining clarity of the lake,” he said.

Reid said many of the solutions “can’t be done on the cheap,” and he said that means pumping more federal dollars into the basin.

Reid deferred to the president and his staff to set the agenda for the summit. And he said the summit may examine changes to the bistate TRPA compact.

He said he expects the summit will include congressional representatives from both states, state officials as well as locals from the three Nevada and two California counties with land in the basin. In addition, it has been suggested before that all the federal agencies with lands in the basin such as the Forest Service will be involved.

He said Clinton’s staff informed him the president is planning the summit for “spring or early summer.”

The summit’s location is yet to be determined, Bryan said. However, when a Clinton visit to Lake Tahoe was rumored last year, federal officials reportedly were looking at the Whittell Mansion as a possible place for the president to stay.

As for what the summit will accomplish, Reid said, “It can’t hurt – this lake is in deep trouble.”


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