‘Land that last run’: Resiliency takes center stage at virtual Lake Tahoe Summit
TRUCKEE — The 24th annual Lake Tahoe Summit featured speeches from senators, house members, and governors from Nevada and California on several issues the Tahoe Basin faces.
But among the talks most true to this year’s summit theme, Resilient Tahoe, was a presentation by two-time Olympic Gold Medalist David Wise, of Reno, the keynote speaker on Tuesday.
Wise shared his story of resiliency from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The halfpipe skier said during his practice runs he’d been locked in, nailing a run that was more difficult than anyone else’s in the field.
Wise started his first of three runs in solid fashion but had a ski fall off, resulting in a crash. He then switched skis for his second of the best-of-three-run format, but again had a ski fall off, leaving only one last chance to defend his 2014 gold medal.
Wise went on to throw down the run of a lifetime, stomping each trick on the way to his highest score of his career and a second gold medal.
“So my message to you right now is that we’re kind of on the third of our best-of-three-run format,” said Wise. “Nature is resilient and Tahoe has put up with a lot of the abuse that we’ve put it through … but we also have to put our skis back on and we have to land that last run. We have an opportunity to land that last run, and that’s what we need to do.”
Wise’s sweeping message on protecting Tahoe was driven home by many of the government officials, who talked about the importance of the collaborative effort to safeguard Tahoe.
U.S. Senator and Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris, D-Calif., used her video speech to reminisce on fond memories of visiting the lake as a child, and the example set by the Tahoe community toward working to preserve the lake for future generations.
“The reason for our work and dedication to the Lake Tahoe Basin is really quite simple — to ensure future generations that they can also enjoy this most beautiful part of our country. At its core, the Lake Tahoe Basin today serves as an example to the nation of how communities can work together to address the environmental challenges we face in this moment in time,” said Harris.
“There is still so much more to be done, including facing a climate crisis that is banging on our doorstep and threatening the future of our nation. Make no mistake, this crisis will test the resilience of Lake Tahoe on everything from invasive species to wildfires. That’s why your efforts to address water security, clean transportation, ecosystem health, and more, is so critical.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., spoke on efforts to create new bike and pedestrian trails, reduce the risk of wildfire, restore streams and watersheds, prevent storm water pollution, and control the spread of invasive species.
“Despite the tremendous success these projects have had in restoring our lake, we now face our biggest test, and guess what it is — climate change,” said Feinstein. “Climate change is already having a profound effect on this lake and it threatens to roll back much of our progress … this is a call to action and we’ve got to respond with urgency and science-based solutions.”
The University of California, Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center recently released its annual State of the Lake report, which showed that despite a cooler year in 2019, the long-term climate trends are increasing the length of the warmer months and impacting clarity.
Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., also spoke on invasive species and wildfires, along with her co-sponsorship of the Stop the Spread of Invasive Mussels Act of 2019 and the Wildfire Defense Act.
“We must do more to protect Nevada and California communities from the threat of costly and deadly wildfires that severely impact the Tahoe Basin,” said Rosen on protecting an economy of $5.1 billion, according to the Tahoe Prosperity Center.
Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., also touched on the issue of wildfires, sending in his taped video from a recently treated area of forest in the basin.
“A resilient Tahoe requires resilient forests, and resilient forests require active scientific forest management,” said McClintock, who compared the effects of a fire like the 2018 Camp Fire, which burned 153,336 acres and killed 85 civilians, with the Tahoe Basin.
“A similar fire here would mean the utter destruction of Tahoe’s communities,” added McClintock. “Our neglected forests are no different than those that surrounded the town of Paradise that day.”
Currently, Tahoe’s West Shore has ongoing and proposed actions to restore forests and watersheds across 59,000 acres. For more information on the Lake Tahoe West Restoration Partnership, visit LakeTahoeWest.org. Governors weigh in
California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak also sent in videos for this year’s Lake Tahoe Summit.
In a brief statement, Newsom spoke on the importance of collaboration and the opportunity to protect the Tahoe Basin.
“It goes without saying the backdrop of climate change exacerbates all of the challenges that we have to face, but it also goes without saying the spirit that unites us here every year at the summit — the spirit of a bi-state, bi-partisan approach to solving problems — that collaborative spirit is the antidote to any fear or anxiety you may have about our inability to deliver on our promises,” said Newsom. “We have agency. We can protect this basin and this lake for generations to come. It’s decisions, not conditions, that will determine that fate and our collective future.”
Sisolak praised the efforts of the Tahoe Fund, which celebrated its 10th anniversary of funding environmental projects around the basin this year. Sisolak also spoke on projects at Spooner Lake, which include an amphitheater and redesign of facilities, along with stream restoration projects at Rosewood Creek, Incline Creek, and Third Creek, which were all completed since the last Lake Tahoe Summit.
“Nevada remains committed to protecting and enhancing Lake Tahoe, and working hand in hand with our federal, state, local, and private partners to achieve our mutual goals throughout the basin. The secret to success in Lake Tahoe is collaboration, said Sisolak.
“While it is important to celebrate our successes, it is even more important to have an eye to the future and to remain focused on future needs to protect this iconic lake.”
Sisolak concluded his time by stating that transportation issues and emissions are among the greatest threats facing the lake.
“It’s a critical issue facing the Tahoe Basin,” he said. “(Emissions) represent the nexus to nearly every environmental and economic challenge within the Lake Tahoe Basin. While visitation to Lake Tahoe supports a multi-billion dollar tourist economy, the increased number of visitors heading to Tahoe is causing more congestion and more parking shortages that impact the region’s environment, it’s quality of life, and visitor experience. It is essential we create new options for visiting Lake Tahoe that allow you to leave your personal vehicle at home.”
On Monday, the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County announced plans for a future regional service between the Reno/Sparks area and Incline Village and Sand Harbor in Lake Tahoe through a collaborative partnership. Project development is underway in partnership with the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, Tahoe Truckee Area Regional Transit, and the Tahoe Transportation District. Plans are for the service to be available during the 2021 summer months.
For full video of this year’s Lake Tahoe Summit, visit the Tahoe Fund’s Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/tahoefund/.
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun, a sister publication of The Union. Contact him at email@example.com or 530-550-2643.
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