Summit puts Tahoe on front burner |

Summit puts Tahoe on front burner

Issues surrounding Lake Tahoe are not being ignored, they are just going to be talked about later than usual.

Originally planned for August, busy days in Washington, D.C., forced the fifth annual Lake Tahoe Environmental Summit to be pushed back until this month. It will be at Heavenly Ski Resort on Oct. 27. Its working title is: “Tahoe 2002: Progress through Partnership.”

Senators from California and Nevada take turns each year hosting the summit. This year that responsibility fell to Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

“October was the best time,” said Scott Gerber, spokesman for the senator. “It worked for most participants.”

Feinstein, Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Jim Gibbons will speak at the summit. The governors of California and Nevada have been invited, as have a number of federal officials. Sens. John Ensign and Barbara Boxer do not plan to attend.

The summit is still being organized, said Andrew Strain, director of planning and governmental affairs at Heavenly. But it is expected to begin in the morning at a facility on top of the Heavenly Tram and last until early afternoon. It will not be open to the public because of limited space. Heavenly hosted the first summit in 1998.

The event is sponsored by the Lake Tahoe Transportation and Water Quality Coalition, a group with the League to Save Lake Tahoe, Lake Tahoe Gaming Alliance and Heavenly as its co-chairs. The coalition helped create the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act, which passed in 1997 and authorized Congress to spend about $30 million a year for 10 years to protect and restore the lake.

The summit, which evolved out of the 1997 Lake Tahoe Presidential Forum, helps keep Tahoe fresh in the minds of public officials, said Rochelle Nason, executive director at the League.

“It’s a reminder to both elected officials and civil service workers that a commitment was made here that is still important and needs to be followed through on,” Nason said. “And it’s a chance for the elected officials to dialogue with the agencies about what’s been accomplished and what’s needed at Lake Tahoe.”

The Lake Tahoe Restoration Act is the federal government’s portion of the Environmental Improvement Program, a list of about 900 needed environmental projects estimated to cost $908 million to implement. Because of inflation that number is now estimated to be $1.5 billion.

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