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President to sign Lake Tahoe agreement

Patrick McCartney

Two months of intensive study of the Lake Tahoe environment will come to a climax this weekend, when President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore host the historic Lake Tahoe Presidential Forum.

The vice president will review the findings from workshops conducted by four federal departments at a workshop in South Lake Tahoe Friday.

On Saturday, he will report to President Clinton at a forum in Incline Village, where the president is scheduled to sign an executive order committing the government to restoring Lake Tahoe’s troubled environment.

The president will also make a policy address at the forum, which will spell out how the federal government can help restore Lake Tahoe’s declining water clarity, nurse back to health the basin’s ailing forests and unify its patchwork transit system.

The historic visit by Clinton and Gore – almost certainly the first to Lake Tahoe by both a sitting president and vice president – demonstrates the special importance of Lake Tahoe to the nation, as well as residents of the two states that share its basin.

At Friday’s 1:35 p.m. workshop at the Lake in the Sky amphitheater, open by invitation only, the vice president will receive briefings from Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of Transportation Dan Glickman and Administrator Carol Browner of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Cabinet officers and EPA administrator will be joined by panels of elected officials, regional and local experts in presenting Gore with the results of two community forums and three Cabinet-level workshops held in the basin over the last two months. The four panels will discuss the findings on water quality, transportation, forest health and the basin’s visitor-based economy.

Before the workshop, the vice president will hit the Tallac Trail, hiking to an overlook that affords a panoramic view of Lake Tahoe. He is also scheduled to meet behind closed doors with members of the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California, who are seeking the return of part of their traditional summer camping grounds in the Tahoe Basin.

Later Friday, Gore will meet with the dozen members of the Presidential Visit Steering Committee, Lake Tahoe residents who worked with federal officials in shaping the events of the last two months.

Saturday morning, the vice president will join President Clinton on Lake Tahoe’s North Shore, where the pair are scheduled to accompany Dr. Charles Goldman aboard the research vessel Le Conte on Lake Tahoe. The chief executive and vice president will participate in water quality testing aboard the aluminum-hulled boat, which is operated by the University of California, Davis’ Tahoe Research Group.

Back ashore, President Clinton will sign an executive order that commits the federal government to preserving Lake Tahoe’s environment.

That over, the president and vice president will preside over the Lake Tahoe Presidential Forum. They will be joined by Babbitt, Glickman, Browner, other senior administration officials, the local steering committee, and others who have participated in the Cabinet-level workshops.

Again, the event at the Hyatt Lake Tahoe’s Lakeside Lodge in Incline Village is open by invitation only.

After concluding the forum and addressing the public at the nearby Village Green, President Clinton will depart the basin on board Marine One, the president’s helicopter, some six hours after his arrival.

The vice president will remain in the basin for a few days on vacation.


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