Tahoe delegation head to D.C. to fight for funds
Lake Tahoe officials are about to embark on the lengthy process of trying to secure part of the federal fiscal 2000 budget to help preserve the “Jewel of the Sierra.”
Officials from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the Lake Tahoe Transportation and Water Quality Coalition are traveling to Washington, D.C., at the end of the week to make the initial presentation of the federal funding requests for Tahoe.
They will be asking for about $33 million to help complete erosion-control projects, restore forest health, acquire sensitive land, solve transportation issues and other programs.
“We’ll have a better feel for how successful we might be after this trip,” said Carl Hasty, TRPA Environmental Improvement Program coordinator. “I feel optimistic we’ll be successful. It’s just a matter of whether we get all of it or half of it – or a third of it.”
For about five years, Lake Tahoe agencies have teamed up to coordinate their federal requests. Having all of the agencies supportive of a “cooperative legislative agenda” helps the likelihood of having the funding approved, said Steve Teshara, co-chair of the Lake Tahoe Transportation and Water Quality Coalition.
“It’s always a great challenge,” Teshara said. “We learn every year. We have a much higher visibility for these issues since the (1997 Presidential) Forum.”
Officials from the coalition and TRPA will make regular trips to Washington, D.C., over the next several months, urging support for the federal requests.
“(Lobbying for Tahoe) takes the better part of the year,” Teshara said. “It’s a pretty significant commitment, but it’s how the process works.”
Since the president’s visit in 1997 and the completion of TRPA’s Environmental Improvement Program, Tahoe officials have requested about $30 million each year. Tahoe received more than $20 million last year.
This year’s requests include:
– About $1.3 million for erosion-control projects in Douglas County and another $1 million for erosion projects in El Dorado County.
– About $2 million for Stream Environment Zone restoration: $300,000 in Nevada and $700,000 in California.
– $10 million for transportation and air quality needs, including money for bus purchases, the Coordinated Transit System and $7 million for sidewalk improvements in the city of South Lake Tahoe.
– About $18 million of the request would go to the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit for managing urban lots, acquiring land, prescribed burning, mechanical forest treatments, watershed restoration projects and more.
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