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Bill and Al coming to Incline Saturday

Jim Porter

The president is coming. The President is coming. That would be President Clinton, known in this column as President Bill.

Vice President Al will meet with hundreds of local, state and national officials Friday at South Shore, California side, and President Bill will join the group with his own entourage of 400 Saturday on the North Shore at Incline, Nevada side. That’s politically correct venue selection.

But the Tahoe Summit is more than politically correct. It’s more than a photo-op.

The national focus on our little jewel should yield positive results for the lake. As Rochelle Nason of the League to Save Lake Tahoe says, the Summit “could be a turning point” for the Tahoe Basin.

Tahoe, with its inspiring beauty and legendary clear, azure color has been its own undoing. Everyone wants to boat, hike, bike, fish, camp, drive around, develop and love it to death; and we have come close to doing so.

The lake loses more than one foot of clarity every year. University of California at Davis limnologist Charles Goldman and his Tahoe Research Group have been measuring the lake’s clarity with a white-plate looking device called a secchi disc since the 1960s.

Having lived on the lake myself for almost 30 years. I can attest to the reduction in clarity and significant increase of slimy green algae, which grows on granite rocks where none grew when I first stayed at Homewood in the early ’50s.

Much has changed since then, there have been many positive achievements, most notably the maturation of the key interests at the lake, from the watchdog League to the casinos, who recognize the intrinsic and economic value of protecting the lake. Consensus building has replaced litigation as the favored dispute resolution process.

Hope is high that the presidential and vice presidential forum will bring focus and solutions to the myriad problems facing the lake. The pre-summit work sessions have been encouraging.

Impossible summertime traffic jams are looking for transportation solutions – perhaps federal transit money. Dead and dying trees infected with bark beetles present acute fire hazards and cry for environmentally sound logging.

Forestry reconstruction, retention of wetlands, reducing the runoff of nutrients from development and roadways and minimizing air pollution are expensive must-do solutions.

Balance those goals with the need for government to cooperate and respect business and individual property rights and the chore becomes worthy of a national environmental forum.

The president and vice president bring solid environmental, blended with common sense, records.

We will see what comes from all the hoopla, but I am betting my money the summit will deliver.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon, with offices in Truckee and Reno. He is also a mediator.


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