Tahoe Summit set for late July | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Tahoe Summit set for late July

Patrick McCartney

President Clinton is scheduled to visit Lake Tahoe for a summit on the region’s environment the last weekend in July, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid announced Wednesday.

“The president has tentatively set July 26 and 27, a Saturday and Sunday, as the date of the Tahoe summit,” said Reid, who has pushed for the presidential visit since last summer. President Clinton is expected to attend at least one day of the two-day event.

“I’m excited that it’s now a reality,” Reid said. “I’m happy that the president has recognized Lake Tahoe as being an environmental concern.”

A White House official said no decision has yet been made on the site of the two-day conference, where the president will stay, or whether Hillary Clinton will accompany her husband on the trip.

Speaking on the condition his name not be used, the White House official described as “a reasonable probability” that the president will stay at Lake Tahoe overnight. An advance team will be scouting out potential locations in the coming weeks.

With the president committed to attend the summit, planning for the environmental conference will include meetings of senior agency staff and administration officials in Washington, D.C. and the Tahoe Basin.

The planning sessions to be held in the Tahoe Basin and nearby communities could include cabinet officials from the Interior and Agriculture departments and Environmental Protection Agency, said Reid spokeswoman Susan McCue.

“The meeting will include high-ranking cabinet officials,” McCue said.

While a complete list of invited public officials is still to be determined, those who are certain to be included are the governors of California and Nevada, the states’ four U.S. senators and congressional representatives of the area.

“We want to make sure we have the cooperation of local government, but everything will flow from the top with their cooperation,” Reid said.

The agenda for the summit will be hammered out at a meeting next week in Washington, but Reid said the basic issues probably won’t be changed. Those are Lake Tahoe’s water quality and the decline of its renowned clarity, the forest ecosystem, transportation and development in the Sierra.

“The scope of the meetings will be broad,” said McCue. “We have four agencies involved so far: Agriculture, the EPA, Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of the Interior.”

Linda Massey, a spokeswoman for the Forest Service’s Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, said the Tahoe agency has been forwarding material on a number of topics to Forest Service officials in Washington, D.C. The agency has provided considerable background information on wetland restoration, forest health, prescribed fires, urban lot management and its acquisition of sensitive lands with federal Burton-Santini funds, Massey said.

Reid said the summit will help focus attention on the need for greater cooperation between public and private interests to address the environmental concerns with Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Nevada.

“We hope to develop better cooperation between the federal government, the two states and local government on both sides of the lake,” Reid said. “And we hope to develop more public-private partnerships.”

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