Truckee-Tahoe locals win Lake Spirit Awards |

Truckee-Tahoe locals win Lake Spirit Awards

Each year the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency recognizes individuals for their commitment to protecting and enhancing Lake Tahoe’s unique natural environment.

Five people from around the lake were selected this year as recipients of the Lake Spirit Award for their work around the Tahoe basin, including building trails, promoting climate change awareness, organizing beach cleanups and preserving cultural resources.

The awards, which began in 2011, recognize individuals from the North and South Shores of the lake, who are either citizens or agency representatives / environmental scientists.

This year, brothers Ben and Evan Anderson, of Truckee, were selected as the North Shore Citizens winners for their dedication to the environment.

The Andersons are presidents of the Truckee High School Envirolution Club, according to a news release from the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, and have consistently attended watershed service days, Truckee River Days, beach and other community cleanup days. The two have also volunteered at booths for environmental research, assisted in science fairs, created public environmental outreach, and written letters to local papers and businesses asking for commitments to the environment.

“Most importantly, Ben and Evan have consistently shown up, walked the talk and put in countless hours toward every aspect of our local environment … the wildlife, water quality and conservation, waste management practices, watershed protection, protection of native species, energy conservation, climate change education, and environmental advocacy,” said Melissa “Missy” Mohler, executive director of Sierra Watershed Education Partnerships, in nominating the two.

The North Shore Agency Representative / Environmental Scientist award went to Jay Howard for leading and providing assistance with numerous lake projects, including beach restoration, trail construction, campground upgrades, and the construction of Van Sickle Bi-State Park.

“Jay has a strong personal commitment to the protection of the fragile environment in the basin,” wrote Mark Kimbrough in nominating Howard. “He understands the importance and necessity for proper planning and studies to establish priority needs for the EIP in the basin. He personally initiated several planning efforts in the park to gather the science necessary for implementation.

“The net results for Jay’s work will be seen for years to come in the basin.”

Howard was selected in 2000 as Nevada State Parks’ first staff position for the Lake Tahoe Environmental Improvement Program, and said during that time he’s most proud of working on the Marlette Lake Trail and the Sand Harbor Visitor Center.

“I felt humbled by the whole thing,” said Howard on winning the Lake Spirit Award. “I know that there’s a lot of people out there that love Lake Tahoe, and have spent their careers working toward saving Tahoe and its famous clarity. So I was pretty happy and proud to become one of a pretty big group of people that have done a lot up in the Tahoe basin over the years.

“I want to thank the people that brought me into the basin, primarily Mark Kimbrough. I also want to thank the people that I work with. The Nevada Tahoe Resource Team has a number of great people that are working up in the Tahoe basin, and doing essentially the same work that I’m doing.”

The Nevada Tahoe Resource Team is an interagency team dedicated to preserving and enhancing the natural environment in the Lake Tahoe basin, and consists of members from State Lands, Division of Forestry, Department of Wildlife, and Division of State Parks.

“That’s the model that the state of Nevada put together in order to implement these (environmental improvement program) projects. That’s been a really successful model that the state has implemented.”

Winners from the South Shore included, citizen Helen Henry Smith, who has spent much of her life working to help preserve the iconic Lake Tahoe castle while forming the Vikingsholm Fund; and League to Save Lake Tahoe Community Engagement Manager Marilee Movius for organizing community events, managing the league’s volunteer program, and cultivating local partnerships.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at

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