Lake Tahoe Environmental Summit covers major issues impacting California & Nevada

The sun rises over Lake Tahoe, as seen from Commons Beach in Tahoe City on Aug. 10. The 2015 Lake Tahoe Environmental Summit in Zephyr Cove will cover a variety of issues pertaining to Lake Tahoe on Monday, Aug. 24.

The sun rises over Lake Tahoe, as seen from Commons Beach in Tahoe City on Aug. 10. The 2015 Lake Tahoe Environmental Summit in Zephyr Cove will cover a variety of issues pertaining to Lake Tahoe on Monday, Aug. 24.

Major environmental policies, state and federal politicians, and litany of ideas will be featured Monday, Aug. 24, at the 2015 Lake Tahoe Environmental Summit in Zephyr Cove.

The meat of the conference deals with topics that maintain Lake Tahoe’s spirit and safety, whether through policy or hands-on initiatives.

“It’s a chance to bring together all the states and federal leaders, members of Washoe Tribe, and business and community leaders to talk about challenges and successes in Lake Tahoe,” said Tom Lotshaw with Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

Lotshaw said the gathering will be a great platform for people to engage and learn about Lake Tahoe’s environmental and recreational issues.

Prominent items on the agenda include a joint plan to control or reduce aquatic invasive species along the lake’s near-shore areas, the U.S. Forest Service’s master forest plan, new methods of fire detection, and a first year of study targeting increased algae growth.

Wildfire protection plan

The Summit also introduces the Tahoe Fuels and Fires Team’s updated wildfire protection plan. The Fuels and Fires Team includes 40 agencies like the U.S. Forest Service, local fire agencies, and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

The plan moves from a reactive measure to a proactive stance on handling wildfire prevention, including the restoration of fire resistant landscapes like the Seneca Pond project, continued selective thinning of the forests, and new methods of fire detection.

“It lays out what we are going to do, and what are the highest priorities to reduce fire risks,” Lotshaw said.

Detection measures include a system-wide network of video cameras that allow fire agencies and residents to keep an eye on fires.

Invasive species plan

On the aquatic invasive species front, the joint plan moves from prevention to proactive control.

Jesse Patterson, deputy director of the League to Save Lake Tahoe, said while the basin’s preventative measures like boat checks have helped, there hasn’t been much effort to control non-native species already in the lake.

“Action should happen now and this plan really steps it up,” Patterson said.

He added it wasn’t just a South Shore problem since invasive species were spreading across the lake.

On the prevention side, the basin implemented a boat check program where 14,000 crafts were inspected annually to prevent more invasive species from entering the basin.

The plan identifies three invasive plants that are prime targets for removal — curlyleaf pondweed, Eurasian water milfoil, and warm-water fish like goldfish, largemouth bass and bluegill.

Tahoe Keys and Ski Run marinas are infested with the species, and now Lakeside Marina near Stateline faces infestation as well.

The Tahoe Resource Conservation District, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, and University of Nevada, Reno lead in the project, while California Tahoe Conservancy funded the management plan.

The first year of the project began with monitoring near-shore areas around Tahoe Keys, Ski Run Marina, Tahoe City, Meeks Bay, and Crystal Bay.

Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s executive director, Joanne Marchetta, said the plan provides the first comprehensive blueprint to attack Tahoe’s invasive species effectively with limited funding. California already provides some funding for the attack plan and the local agency continues to seek other funding options.

“This has been one of our highest priorities over the last five years,” Marchetta said.

Other items on the agenda include the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act and transportation projects like Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s bicycle implementation plan.

“The Lake Tahoe Restoration Act is a critical piece of legislation from the federal government, which has been a huge partner in restoration,” Lotshaw said. “It would continue the federal government’s investment into valuable programs at Lake Tahoe.“

Planned speakers include California Gov. Jerry Brown, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and Congressmen Mark Amodei (R-Nev.), John Garamendi (D-Calif.) and Tom McClintock (R-Calif.).

Event parking will be off site at the Kingsbury Transit Center, 169 Highway 50 in Stateline. Bus shuttles will provide transportation from there to Round Hill Pines Beach Resort.

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