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Lake Tahoe Summit addresses economy and environment

Matthew Renda
mrenda@tahoedailytribune.com

Federal, state and local elected officials convened at Sand Harbor State Park today for the annual Lake Tahoe Summit.

At the summit, decision makers will assess the state of Lake Tahoe while identifying which policies can sustain the lake as a national treasure.

The summit began at 10 a.m. with a speech by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., who said the theme for this year’s summit has expanded to include the basin’s economic as well as environmental health.

“But this year, I wanted to expand our vision. We all know about the state of our economy. We all know people who have lost their jobs, and their homes. We all know small businesses that have closed their doors. And we all know that while the Lake Tahoe Basin is a very special place, it is not immune to what is happening everywhere else in Nevada and California and across the country.

“I believe if we want to rebuild the economy here, it is imperative that we recognize the relationship between our economy and our environment. Simply put, protecting Lake Tahoe is the right thing to do environmentally and economically.”

Lake clarity, aquatic invasive species, forest management and wildfire prevention will also be topics discussed at this year’s summit.

The Lake Tahoe Summit began in 1997, when President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore and United States Senator for Nevada Harry Reid made appearances in Lake Tahoe and emphasized the importance of protecting the lake.

For each of the past 13 years, elected officials have descended on Lake Tahoe to discuss the lake.

“The summit turns people’s attention on a national level to Lake Tahoe,” said Dennis Oliver, spokesman for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency. “It emphasizes that there is more to be done to protect the lake.”

Speakers include Bob Taylor, Executive Director of the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival; Nevada State Senator John Lee; U.S. Senator for Nevada Harry Reid; U.S. Senator for California Dianne Feinstein; U.S. Senator for Nevada John Ensign; Department of Interior Deputy Secretary David Hayes; Department of Agriculture Deputy Jay Jensen; El Dorado County Supervisor Norma Santiago and Trish Kelly from the Sacramento-based economics firm Applied Development Economics.

Kelly has been one of the principal organizers of the Lake Tahoe Basin Prosperity Plan, which is attempting to identify and implement new economic policies aimed at stimulating the basin economy.