Truckee River Watershed Council leader earns TRPA Spirit Award

Sebastian Foltz
Tahoe Regional Planning Agency recently honored a group of locals with Spirit Awards. From left to right: Joanne Marchetta (TRPA), Beth Quandt, Ben Fish, Lisa Wallace and Casey Beyer (TRPA).
Courtesy / TRPA |

STATELINE, Nev. — The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency recently announced its 2016 Spirit Award winners.

Ben Fish of the Tahoe Area Mountain Biking Association; Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout Cyrus Miller; Beth Quandt from Lake Tahoe Unified School District; and Lisa Wallace from Truckee River Watershed Council each received awards at TRPA’s monthly governing board meeting Wednesday, April 27.

The agency began honoring North and South Shore nominees annually in 2011, based on community and environmental contributions to the Tahoe Basin.

“It’s people in the community that are going above and beyond,” said Devin Middlebrook, an environmental education specialist for the TRPA. “We realized that everyday people were doing amazing things for Lake Tahoe and we wanted to recognize them.”

Awards are given for Exemplary Citizen and Exemplary Agency Representative, with winners selected from around the lake.

“This year’s winners showed amazing commitment to protecting our region,” Middlebrook said. “When it comes to creating environmental improvements on the ground, everyone has a role to play.”


Fish won as Exemplary Citizen for the South Shore. As president of both TAMBA and Bijou Bike Park Association, Fish and his wife Amy annually lead hundreds of volunteers to build and maintain bike trails around the lake while advocating for sustainable trail use.

“It’s really cool that TRPA acknowledges its citizens like this. There’s so much work that goes unnoticed,” Fish said. “It’s a really nice honor and they gave a nice congratulations to my family, too.”

TAMBA volunteers, in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service, annually account for thousands of volunteer hours. In addition to his advocacy for the mountain bike community, Fish was the impetus behind Bijou Bike Park.


Miller won the North Shore honor for his work as an Eagle Scout candidate from Boy Scouts of America Troop 228.

Miller lives in the Bay Area, but regularly visits Tahoe’s North Shore with his family. On one of his visits, he noticed a sizeable rusted pipe lying on the drought-exposed shoreline just south of Tahoe City.

He decided to make removing the pipe his Eagle Scout candidacy project. Following seven months of planning with local agencies and property owners, Miller and the rest of his troop spent two days last June dismantling the pipe section by section.

In total, the scouts removed 730 feet of old pipe and restored the lake bed to a more natural state.


Quandt won for Exemplary Agency Representative on the South Shore for her work as the science program coordinator with Lake Tahoe Unified School District. Quandt is the lead organizer for the South Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition, which implements hands-on outdoor science programing in local schools.

“I’m so lucky I get to work with this group,” Quandt said. Speaking to the award, she added, “I’m very honored to receive it, but really the honor should go to all the people in [South Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition]. I couldn’t do it without them.”

With more than 20 local partners, the organization is critical in implementing science programs on the South Shore. The programs that Quandt leads serve roughly 14,500 students, teachers and volunteers each year.


The North Shore award was given to Wallace, executive director for the Truckee River Watershed Council. For 20 years, she has worked to protect, restore and enhance the Truckee River Watershed.

Wallace also guided the council’s efforts by implementing hundreds of projects, leading thousands of volunteers and fostering public-private partnerships.

She played a key role in the implementation of the Truckee River Operating Agreement, which affects all water bodies and users.

Learn more about TRPA by visiting

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