Incline prepares for Tahoe forum
Sun News Service
INCLINE VILLAGE ” Former President Bill Clinton’s appearance today at the Lake Tahoe marks 10 years of evolution and environmental commitment to the fragile ecosystem known as the crown jewel of the Sierra Nevada.
While environmental measures have garnered modest improvements over the past decade, many say renewed efforts may be required to carry on the massive undertaking of both federal and state governments into the next decade.
And by the looks of it, man’s hand may continue to be a contributing factor into the lake’s declining clarity for the foreseeable future as climate change has caused Tahoe’s water temperatures to rise by four degrees, according to a report released Wednesday by the UC Davis scientists.
The forum, which was organized by Nevada U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, promoted a collaborative effort to protect Lake Tahoe, which had seen its legendary clarity reduce at startling levels over the previous two decades. It culminated with a pledge of $50 million in federal spending for the basin’s troubled environment by President Clinton.
Ten years later, the memory of the Clinton-Gore visit still remains vivid to the many of those who were there. In the years since, the event has grown into an annual gathering of federal, state and regional agencies, academic institutions, stakeholder groups and elected officials to discuss what progress has been made in improving Tahoe’s ecology.
With full details still uncertain from Reid’s office, Sierra Nevada College officials are doing what they can to prepare for today’s.
More than 1,000 spectators, media and political dignitaries are expected to attend, which is organized by Reid. It is scheduled from 3 to 4 p.m. at the campus’ Patterson Hall lawn.
Cynthia McClelland, director of marketing and community relations at Sierra Nevada College, said 600 chairs will be staggered across the lawn for the general public.
Plenty of standing room also will be made available, McClelland said. There shouldn’t be an overflow problem either, she said.
“(The forum) is also the same day as the day new and returning students can move back into the college,” McClelland said. “But we had over 1,000 people here for graduation, and it wasn’t too crazy. I don’t anticipate a problem.”
The forum will commemorate 10 years of annual political summits for Lake Tahoe, since Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore established the Lake Tahoe Federal Advisory Committee following the initial Lake Tahoe Presidential Forum in 1997.
Jon Summers, a representative from Reid’s Washington, D.C., office, confirmed Wednesday that Clinton, Reid, Nevada Sen. John Ensign, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, former Nevada Governor and Senator Richard H. Bryan, Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons, U.S. Rep. Dean Heller, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne and Undersecretary of Agriculture Mark Rey are expected to attend Friday. However, he said he is unsure who will make speeches.
“Obviously some of them are going to speak,” Summers said. “Clinton, Reid, Ensign and Feinstein, and probably Kempthorne, will likely make speeches.”
Also unclear is a rumored visit to the forum by Gore, who has left the door open — albeit slightly ” for a possible run for the White House, and Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton. Officials representing both were unavailable for comment.
Summers said an official forum agenda is being formulated and will be released as soon as possible.
McClelland said this week that SNC president Larry Large will kick off the event by introducing Bryan, who will make a short speech before passing the microphone to the next speaker. McClelland said she expects each attendee to speak for a a few minutes, before opening the podium to Clinton, McClelland said.
Tory Mazzola, communications director for Ensign, said the senator is excited to attend today’s forum.
“Senator Ensign was raised in Tahoe ” he considers it an absolute gem,” Mazzola said. “He looks at these Lake Tahoe Summits as something we all can agree on — preserving Lake Tahoe for our children’s children.”
Because of increased media attention, McClelland said a special media platform will be constructed for the five major television networks covering the forum. Networks expected to attend Friday include ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX and NBC, McClelland said.