The politics of Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is a very unique and special place, and as such, heavy protections have been set up to ensure the lake remains clear and that we humans don’t muck it up.  The Tahoe Regional Protection Agency (TRPA) is the entity tasked with this responsibility, though how well it’s achieved that depends on who you talk to.

Currently the TRPA is under fire for how it’s dealt with the Heavenly Mountain Resort Master Plan.  The resort wishes to expand and improve facilities on the Nevada side, including upgrading lifts and adding new lodges.  The plan that was initially approved in late February was not one that many locals and environmental organizations supported, as it would require cutting down numerous old-growth trees. Here’s where the fun starts.  Turns out the TRPA has a different definition of old-growth from the Forest Service – the agency that conducted one of the many reviews of this plan.  So while the Forest Service says they’re not old growth, by the TRPA’s definition these trees may be.

But the trees are just one issue.  There’s lake clarity as well, and the option that many environmental groups (including the Sierra Nevada Alliance) are promoting, one that requires a kinked chairlift to avoid cutting down trees, actually requires the movement of an enormous amount of earth, which then gets into erosion and sedimentation issues, if this soil makes its way to the lake.

Coupled with the very loud voices of the various environmental groups and the inability of our local media to paint a truly impartial picture (too bad I only just discovered this site yesterday), it’s no wonder that chaos has ensued, with a rehearing of this Master Plan approval scheduled for this morning.

As for me, I like the idea of not cutting down trees, but I don’t like the kinked lift idea either.  The slower pace of that part of Heavenly has always been a nice escape for me, since not that many people head over there outside of the hard core tree lovin’ powder hounds.  However, I understand that the inescapable pace of ‘progress’ doesn’t consider the passionate luddites like myself.

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