Sunday, August 19, 2007

August 07 EIP update

Unedited 08-07 Tahoe Mt. News story

By Kathryn Reed

President Bill Clinton got the ball rolling to bring billions of dollars to Lake Tahoe to improve the environment.
His visit with then VP Al Gore in 1997 was the impetus for the Environment Improvement Program. As of 2006, $1.1 billion has been spent on the basin’s ecosystem.
The federal government has allocated $293 million, California $446 million, Nevada $82 million, local governments $53.4 million and $216 million has come from private sources.
Clinton will be at the 11th annual Lake Tahoe Presidential Forum hosted by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., at Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village on Aug. 17.
Joining the Senate majority leader will be Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. Emceeing the event will be ex-Silver State Sen. Richard Bryan.
Other possible attendees include the EPA chief, governors of both states, and the secretaries of Agriculture and Interior. Gore has been invited.
“Our commitment to the Lake’s conservation takes shape in the form of EIP projects. These projects repair damage to water and air quality, forest health, fish and wildlife, recreation and scenic views,” the TRPA says in the just published EIP progress report.
Eight categories receive money, with water quality the largest benefactor at 50 percent of the funds. Air quality-transportation has received 23 percent of the money, soil conservation 7 percent, vegetation 6 percent, 5 percent to both recreation and scenic resources, 2 percent to both fisheries and wildlife.
The four-page document says, “Over the last three years, funding for forest health and vegetation projects has increased dramatically and will continue to help reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire.”
The report touts accomplishments that include:
• 21,293 acres being treated for restoration or fuels reduction
• 20 percent reduction in vehicle traffic in the Stateline area because of increased public transit
• Construction of 127 miles of new trails
• 2,388 linear feet of shoreline have been acquired for public use
• $48 million spent on research and monitoring
• 26 miles of state highways being treated for stormwater runoff
• 25 projects completed or planned to restore Upper Truckee River watershed
• More than 3,000 acres of sensitive land have been acquired
• Nearly 750 acres of wetland have been restored

“Future challenges include escalating construction costs that are raising the bar for future projects. Additionally, more recent information tells us that a greater sustained commitment is required to make measurable progress,” the report says. “The Environmental Improvement Program is the key to repairing past damage and minimizing today’s impacts.”
Also coming out of the presidential forum was the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act.
Feinstein’s website says, “To restore the Lake Tahoe Basin, the Federal Government has joined with California, Nevada and the Tahoe community and has embarked upon a 10-year, $900 million cleanup effort. As part of this partnership, Congress approved the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act, which I sponsored along with Senators Richard Bryan, Harry Reid, and Barbara Boxer, authorizing $300 million to be spent on restoration efforts. This legislation was signed into law on November 13, 2000.”
When asked at a meeting earlier this month about fuels reduction where that money is, Forest Service spokesman Rex Norman said it’s one thing to say let’s help Lake Tahoe and it’s a completely different matter when it comes to writing the checks.
The most recent press release on the senator’s website about the LT Restoration Act is from September 2003.

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