The way to further improve the environment at Tahoe is known. Is there the will?
The Environmental Improvement Program (EIP) is a public private partnership that enables coordinated implementation of environmental programs at Lake Tahoe.
The EIP identifies specific projects and programs. It also identifies partners, including federal, state and local agencies and the private sector.
In the period from 1997 to 2006 the federal government invested $293 million in the EIP. Nevada and California invested $528 million. Local agencies invested $53.4 million and the private sector contributed $216 million. The combined contribution was $1.1 billion for EIP projects and programs in the first 9 years. As of 2010 approximately 270 projects were on the ground and hundreds were in the planning and implementation stages. These projects are improving the health of Tahoe forests and watersheds, reducing traffic congestion and air pollution and increasing public access to the Lake and other recreation areas.
EIP priorities for the next decade include improving water clarity, addressing the potential impacts of climate change, achieving fuels reduction targets, restoring watersheds and streams, adopting and implementing a comprehensive aquatic invasive species management plan (see [link to Aquatic Invasive Species]), expanding transit facilities and the bike and pedestrian trail network, achieving Lahontan Cutthroat Trout and Yellow Cress Recovery milestones, and improving Lake access and recreational facilities.
Resources are becoming more limited even as science and applied knowledge are improving the efficacy of the EIP. In order to meet the objectives set for environmental accomplishment more has to be done with less. As author Tom Friedman put it “We need everyone at every level to get smarter”. Or in other words we need everyone to think about the opportunities and challenges facing Tahoe and to be more involved in making environmental improvement. Further improvement of the environment at Tahoe is possible given the knowledge that has been acquired in the past decade. However, there are many variables at play. How will Tahoe negotiate the current recession (see [Link to Prosperity Plan article])? How will Nevada and California transition into a new kind of relationship at Tahoe (see [SB 271 article])? How much is society willing to pay to reduce the impact (see [link to Answers at Hand]) of urban stormwater on Lake clarity? All of these questions and more lie before the community that cares about Tahoe. These are tough questions. To the extent that Tahoe can negotiate toward productive outcomes through positive discourse on these issues, communities with similar issues worldwide can benefit.
Restoration in Progress, Environmental Improvement Program Update, published by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. 2010.