Opinion: Balance of environment, economy critical for Tahoe’s future | SierraSun.com

Opinion: Balance of environment, economy critical for Tahoe’s future

Amy Berry and Lisa Wallace

According to the US Forest Service, the most popular trailhead in our national system is right here at Lake Tahoe, as more people visit the Eagle Falls trailhead than any other.

If you have ever driven around Emerald Bay on a July day, this is not hard to believe. It is a spectacular example of the breathtaking beauty of the lake, towering mountains and clear blue skies of the Tahoe region enjoyed by more than 3 million annual visitors and 40,000 homeowners.

Whether they are drawn here for outdoor recreation, gaming, or just to sit and watch the (infrequent) clouds go by, they are all drawn here for the same reason: the incredible beauty of the Tahoe area.

This indisputable fact does create a challenge for those who spend time in this area. The natural beauty that attracts people is fragile and must be respected if it is going to maintain its splendor.

It creates a great opportunity to teach our residents and visitors to appreciate and value the lake and its surroundings.

For the business community that supports the resident and visitor base, this no doubt creates its own set of challenges. They must have complete respect for the very thing that is driving their bottom lines, the environment, while operating a business that can sustain a positive cash flow.

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Doing business here requires a different and often more expensive business model than you will find most anywhere else in the country. At the same time, the environment needs a successful economic base to continue to support important environmental improvements that will preserve Tahoe and its natural beauty for generations to come.

This balance of the environment and the economy is critical to the long-term health of the Lake Tahoe region.

Readers who follow events and opinions about the Tahoe Basin may enjoy learning of businesses that are rising to this challenge with innovative operations that are producing results for the environment and the economy.

We would like to take the opportunity to use this space to share their stories.

And why do we have a voice on this matter? In 2012, the Truckee River Watershed Council and the Tahoe Fund started a program called Green Bucks to encourage businesses in the region to collect dollar donations from their guests.

Since launching, we have signed up more than 20 businesses and have raised more than $150,000 for efforts to preserve and enhance the local environment.

We have had the opportunity to work closely with these businesses to see their commitment to the environment and we have been the beneficiaries of this commitment.

We think there are some great businesses doing great things for the environment, and we want to share their stories with you in these pages over the next year.

For example, funds raised through Green Bucks have supported a new effort to develop a collaborative educational campaign with more than 60 regional public and private organizations.

Launching this summer, the new "Take Care" campaign is intended to help our residents and visitors remember to take care of our environment.

Our hope is these stories, combined with the new Take Care campaign, will inspire everyone, individuals and businesses alike, to do their best to take care of this extraordinary mountain environment.

Lisa Wallace is executive director of the Truckee River Watershed Council. Amy Berry is executive director of the Tahoe Fund.

Editor’s Note

This column serves as a kick-off to a partnership between the Sun, and the Tahoe Fund and Truckee River Watershed Council, to tell stories from local businesses that have collected donations via the Green Bucks program. Look to the web, or the Business sections of the Sun in print, for their stories.