Dean Heller, Gov. Jerry Brown, others to gather for Lake Tahoe summit | SierraSun.com

Dean Heller, Gov. Jerry Brown, others to gather for Lake Tahoe summit

Jack Barnwell | jbarnwell@tahoedailytribune.com
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.
Courtesy Sterling Frese |

If you go

What: 2015 Lake Tahoe Environmental Summit

Where: Round Hill Pines Beach Resort, 300 US Highway 50, Zephyr Cove

When: Monday, Aug. 24, 10 a.m. to noon, registration at 9 a.m.

Cost: Free, register in advance at tahoefund.org/events/2015-lake-tahoe-summit

Read more: Click here to read a guest column from Sens. Heller and Feinstein in advance of the summit.

ZEPHYR COVE, Nev. — Major environmental policies, state and federal politicians, and a litany of ideas will be the focus of Monday’s Lake Tahoe Environmental Summit in Zephyr Cove.

The meat of the 19th annual political 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, public information officer with the 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 nearshore 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.

Speeches from U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, California Gov. Jerry Brown and Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval will lead the summit.

Since the inaugural Presidential Forum at Lake Tahoe in 1997 — which included President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore — the Lake Tahoe Summit has become a yearly gathering of local, state and federal leaders “working to preserve and restore the Lake as one of our country’s most precious environmental treasures,” according to TRPA.

Wildfire protection

Monday’s Summit will also introduce 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 TRPA.

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

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.

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.

TRPA 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.

Political gathering

Other items on the agenda include the recent reintroduction of the $415 million Lake Tahoe Restoration Act into Congress, and transportation projects like TRPA’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.“

This year’s theme is “Connecting Lake Tahoe’s Environment and Economy through Innovation and Transportation,” and the keynote speaker is Chris Bently, Chief Executive Officer of Bently Enterprises.

Aside from Heller and both governors, Monday’s summit will also feature remarks from: Nevada Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Congressman Mark Amodei, R-Nev., Congressman John Garamendi, D-Calif., Congressman Tom McClintock, R-Calif., and Carlos Monje, Jr., Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy as U.S. Department of Transportation.

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.

Event parking will be offsite at the Kingsbury Transit Center across from Lakeside Inn in Stateline; bus shuttles will provide transportation from there to Round Hill Pines.

Bikes are encouraged, and a bike valet will be provided by the Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition.