Vacant seats on P7 forum | SierraSun.com

Vacant seats on P7 forum

Andrew Pridgen
Sun News Service

The Tahoe Regional Planning agency, one of three lead agencies in the Pathway 2007 effort to create a 20-year plan for the Tahoe Basin, sent out a call this week for new participants in its Pathway Forum process.

Forum members began meeting almost two years ago and started “with no real mission and no real idea of how it would work,” one said. The forum group, comprised of representatives from both California and Nevada, has since its inception grown to incorporate regional studies, scientific research, community input through the place based planning model and agency feedback and is now heading into its home stretch.

“This is a very critical stage for the (Pathway) forum,” said TRPA spokeswoman Angela Moniot. “We’ve got two very important (seats) to fill including the California and Nevada at-large positions.”

There are five forum seats in all that currently need filling, but the vacancies are not a sign that “anything is wrong,” agency officials noted.

Forum members agreed, but noted the time commitment was “more than just one meeting a month.”

“When I was asked two years ago, they didn’t know what (Pathway 2007) would be,” said Incline resident and Pathway Forum member Barbara Perlman-Whyman. “In some ways there is a better picture now of the job, and it is a job.

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“You have to be flexible ” meetings are extensive and in order to be ready there are other things you have to do ” but it’s a natural time for someone new to come in and this is a real opportunity for them.”

TRPA’s Moniot agreed.

“It is a critical time right now for (the group),” she said. “I think it’s a time ” through natural attrition” for the group to be rejuvenated. I think it’s a positive thing.”

Indeed, the work to be done before Pathway 2007 (which agency officials note may not be released until sometime in 2008) is complete is both “extensive and exciting,” forum participants said.

“We’re now looking at (working with) the forest service, Lahontan (regional water quality control board) and (viewing) the TMDL,” Perlman-Whyman said. “This, along with adaptive management and control standards ” it’s a good time to come on board but the train is moving.”

Laymen who do not speak local “agencyeese” should be quick to note that the TMDL stands for Total Daily Maximum Load, or the maximum amount of a pollutant that can be discharged into a water body from all sources (point and non-point) and still maintain water quality standards under Clean Water Act section 303(d).

And the use of “adaptive management and control standards” denote the incorporation of area-specific measures to help include plans made by participants in the place based effort.

That everyday folks may not understand the efforts going on within in the Pathway forum may also be an issue brought to the table by potential new members, participants said.

“Any new person will have to be doubly committed,” Perlman-Whyman said. “They’ll have to catch up. But it’s equally important the community understands this is the best way to learn and process the information and process that the best way to effect your constituency.

“It’s not a political position, it’s about working together.”

The forum was the first to be presented with the UC Davis scientist Dr. Geoff Schladow’s lake clarity model analysis last month ” which ostensibly gave a plan to increase the lake’s clarity over the next 20 years, including identifying its polluters.

But being privy to the latest scientific information is only one benefit of joining, Perlman-Whyman said.

“Every one of us, we are the watchdogs,” she said. “We’re not out there not to see this work… the fact that everyone (on the forum) is still talking to each other two years later is amazing.

“And we’re ready to get to the next step.”

Those interested in applying for a vacant Pathway Forum seat can visit http://www.pathway2007.org