Opinion: Lake Tahoe national park only option to save us from development
For those who wish to preserve Lake Tahoe for future generations, the only viable option is to make the Lake Tahoe area a national park.
The pace of development around the lake is accelerating. The proposed 550 campsites on the west ridge of Martis Valley and yet a larger housing project close by (outside the Tahoe Basin) are a precursor of what is to come.
These two projects along Highway 267 could have a combined population equal to that of Kings Beach, only 2-3 miles down the road. This would result in a prohibitive level of congestion in that area.
The resort-like campsite, with two large community fire pits and many other tourist amenities, would be a fire hazard in spite of the developer’s claims of protective precautions.
The campsite is accessible only by one dead-end road (Fiberboard Freeway). The campsite is in the middle of a densely wooded forest with lots of under brush.
The distance from the campsite to Kingswood along a straight line down the ridge is only 2-3 miles. The forest extends through Kingswood and to Kings Beach. A forest fire there with a northerly wind would be catastrophic.
Further, the proposed campsite requires the rezoning to forest land of 112.8 acres on the ridge that are in the Tahoe Basin and currently within the jurisdiction of TRPA, so that it could be built at that location — a rezoning compromise that would be an invitation to other developers to request other compromises by TRPA.
TRPA was conceived by an act of Congress and signed by President Nixon in 1969. Its charter states, ‘To preserve the scenic beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities of the region, there is a need to insure an equilibrium between the region’s natural endowment and manmade environment.”
However, a cursory review of population growth in the world makes it clear that this equilibrium, whatever it means, cannot be achieved on a long-term basis.
The world population as well as America’s are increasing at an exponential rate; so, too, the number of tourists and developers.
During my lifetime so far, the world population almost tripled from around 2.5 billion to almost 7 billion. Hence, imagine the chaos around the lake, say, 500 years from now.
Consequently, acquiescence to developers’ interests is in essence an acceptance of failure; for the idea of truly preserving the lake should be viewed not in terms of tens of years, but thousands of years.
Thus, a Lake Tahoe National Park is the only viable option.
Many will argue that the park concept is too expensive and not realistic. So let us visit recent pages of history: President Eisenhower promoted the idea of an interstate highway, consisting of tens of thousands of miles crisscrossing the country from east to west and north to south.
The cost was daunting; but the interstate was built and today nobody thinks of an America without its interstate.
President Teddy Roosevelt created five national parks, 18 national monuments, 51 bird sanctuaries, four national game refuges and more than 100 million acres of national forest.
Many objected, but today America admires what he did. And while preserving wild life he also provided a sanctuary for people to escape for a sojourn the anxieties of urban life.
Eiffel built a tower for Paris that will be there as long as there is a Paris to admire. Three thousand years ago, the Pharaohs built the pyramids for the dead, to last forever.
So let us build a park for the living that will last 1,000 years if not forever.
Let us start now with a moratorium on all man-made developments around the lake.
Let us take down hundreds of dilapidated structures along the shoreline and give the land back to nature to allow the lake to breathe.
The lake sustained its sublime beauty and inspiration for thousands of years until we came along.
Let us stop meddling with the lake lest we destroy its sublime beauty and inspiration forever.
Sid Bekowich is an Incline Village resident.