Tahoe Summit explores highs, lows of progress on the lake
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The 26th annual Tahoe Summit brought together local government, public agencies, activism groups and local residents to discuss the progress and challenges that are happening in the Lake Tahoe Basin and the surrounding forests.
The event was hosted Tuesday, Aug. 16, at Sand Harbor by Nevada Sen.Jackie Rosen. The event was put together by a multitude of agencies and featured booths throughout the Sand Harbor parking lot with representatives ready to share their knowledge and promote their organizations, providing informational handouts and freebies aimed at reducing waste in the basin.
“I just want to take a moment to thank the many organizations, agencies, and advocates who work tirelessly to make sure that Lake Tahoe remains the beautiful and spectacular place that it is,” Rosen said.
The event was started with an address from Rosen, followed by an invocation from Washoe Tribal Elder Dina Pete and a welcome from Washoe Chairman Smokey.
“I want to acknowledge Tahoe’s first community,” Rosen said. “Those who have been protecting and preserving and honoring the beauty of this area longer than anyone else; the Washoe Tribe. They’ve been the stewards of Tahoe’s land and water for thousands of generations … and the Washoe Tribe has been invaluable partners in our efforts to protect and preserve this national treasure, our national treasure.”
Throughout the event, representatives that were in attendance included White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, representatives from the forest service, and elected officials from both California and Nevada, including Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, California Sen. Alex Padilla and US representatives Mark Amodei and Tom McClintock.
This year’s summit theme was “Protecting Lake Tahoe’s Future” and much of the remarks made by public officials revolved around the effects of climate change and lack of adequate forest management in the basin.
“Climate change is an existential threat not only for Tahoe, but for all of our communities,” Padilla said. “That is why I am proud of the work being done by the Tahoe Conservation Coalition, which has set the standard for interstate environmental improvement and drawn hundreds of millions of dollars to the region. Whether it be through the appropriations process or with the recent passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, we are renewing America’s commitment to protecting our planet and its special ecological places, like the Lake Tahoe basin, for our children and future generations.”
The Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law by President Joe Biden during the summit in Washington D.C. on Tuesday, was mentioned by multiple speakers throughout the event, given its massive impacts it should have on climate change not only in the basin, but the entire country.
“Climate change is impacting the Tahoe Basin, and we need to take action to protect these treasures for our residents, our future generations, our tourists, and our economy,” Sisolak said. “We need to take action now; not in 10 years, not in five years, but today. Nevada remains committed to protecting the long term sustainable health of Lake Tahoe and counties to deliver strong results.”
Sisolak praised Nevada workers and officials for their extensive work to clean up the forests for fire prevention, along with focusing on the quality and clarity of the lake water and creating healthy and resilient forests with sustainable recreation.
“The work is more critical now and more important than ever as the impacts of climate change continue,” said Sisolak. “We’re excited to see the climate provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act that President Biden will sign in just a few minutes.”
While many of the public officials attribute much of the environmental issues, including increased amount of fires and low air quality due to smoke to climate change, others like U.S. Representative Tom McClintock believes that lack of proper forest management and properly allocated funds to forest management projects is what creates fire danger in the basin.
“The climate didn’t change, the laws changed,” McClintock said. “So whatever else we do, we have to protect Tahoe’s forests if we’re going to protect Tahoe. Fifty years of experience with these laws should warn us that they’ve not only failed to improve the forest environment; they’ve drastically harmed it. The modifications that we were able to make in those laws have made a real difference here in the Tahoe basin among other things.”
The firefighters who have served in the Tahoe Basin, many during the Caldor Fire in 2021, were honored during the event for their efforts to protect the national forest land and prevent future fires multiple times by speakers, and were given a copy of remarks made by McClintock to thank them and honor them in the House of Representatives.
The event was attended by local agencies from all around the Tahoe/Reno area, including The Tahoe Fund, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, Sierra Nevada Alliance and their volunteers, and members of the new University of Nevada, Reno at Lake Tahoe campus including UNR President Brian Sandavol.
Sierra Nevada Alliance Executive Director Jenny Hatch and her team were excited to attend the event and spread awareness on ways to promote conservation in Lake Tahoe.
“The Summit is a really great gathering place to reconvene every year,” said Hatch.
The SNA team brought Lake Tahoe Ambassador Program participants to the event, where they helped as needed, along with AmeriCorp members that helped run the event.
“It’s great to have conservation with conservation leaders from both states, federal agencies, and the nonprofit community, and just remember what we’re all working for,” Hatch said.
To watch the full Lake Tahoe Summit, visit tahoefund.org/2022-lake-tahoe-summit.
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