Working on Lake Tahoe game plan for next 20 years
Saving Lake Tahoe sometimes may seem like a distant goal or a long journey. The planning and restoration efforts now under way are sometimes bewildering in their diversity. In the past two years, however, the leaders of some of Tahoe’s most influential federal, regional and state agencies have agreed to join forces and make the journey together along the “Pathway 2007.”
Pathway 2007, called “P7,” is a coordinated process to update regional land-use plans. Plans that need updating include the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s 20-year Regional Plan, California’s and Nevada’s Water Quality Management Plans and the Forest Service’s Land Management Plan. The goal is to have the plans updated by 2007. These agencies are sharing resources and staff to gather data and develop consistent plans to improve the environmental health of the Lake Tahoe Basin. By traveling this path together, these agencies hope their plans will complement each other, creating synergy for the benefit of the community.
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Compact required the agency to establish environmental threshold carrying capacities and adopt a regional plan to achieve and maintain those standards. Between now and 2007, TRPA staff and other partnering agencies and stakeholders will be reviewing all nine thresholds in light of new information and research. They will also be working to align the thresholds with other key environmental standards, including those being developed by their P7 partners.
The United States Forest Service will be revising the Land and Resource Management Plan for the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, which owns approximately 75 percent of the land in Tahoe’s watershed. The forest plan will not necessarily be completely redone. The revision is based on the “need to change,” and the forest supervisor will select specific issues to address in the process. The plan establishes the desired future conditions for the land and natural resources. The alignment of such goals with those of P7 partners is crucial.
The Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board is taking the lead on the development of the Lake Tahoe Nutrient and Sediment Total Maximum Daily Load. The TMDL is essentially a water-quality restoration plan, mandated by the federal Clean Water Act, which will identify specific pollution reductions needed to reach a lake clarity standard of 100 feet. The water clarity is approximately 67 feet today. The TMDL Research Plan includes $6 million for studies to improve understanding of pollutant loading sources and in-lake processes affecting clarity.
Lahontan is working on the development of the TMDL with the aid of the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection; the California Air Resources Board; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; researchers from University of California Ð Davis, University of Nevada and Desert Research Institute; and its P7 partners. By 2007, NDEP and Lahontan will adopt the TMDL. Lahontan will then amend the Water Quality Control Plan for the Lahontan Region.
In order to update their plans, the key agencies need to know the latest scientific findings and their relevance to future land use decisions. On May 17, 18 and 19, the Nevada Water Resources Association, the Lake Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition, their research institutions and agency partners are sponsoring the Tahoe Research Symposium at the Cal-Neva Resort in Crystal Bay. This event will bring together scientists from many research organizations to make progress reports on their Lake Tahoe projects. For registration details, call Donna Bloom, (775) 626-6389.
A collaborative, public stakeholder process is being developed to ensure that citizens from inside and outside the Tahoe Basin that have an interest in saving Lake Tahoe will be included. All the plan revision processes require public input, and the lead agencies want stakeholders to participate throughout the P7 journey. They have engaged consultants from the Center for Collaborative Policy, a program of California State University Sacramento, to assist with the design and implementation of a collaborative planning process. This process will ensure communication, dialogue and shared problem-solving between the P7 partners and the public every step of the way.
Collaboration among agencies, nonprofits, the business community and citizens takes work. It will require commitment, participation and a willingness to develop and implement solutions. However, if the path is followed, our community will be well served by plans that represent the collective visions of the public and resource agencies. These plans will serve as our guides for environmental restoration efforts for Lake Tahoe for the next 20 years.
– Next week, meet with water quality experts to discuss the impacts of pet waste on our watershed.