August 17, 2010
Lake Tahoe, NV—Nevada Senator Harry Reid today hosted the 2010 Lake Tahoe Summit. He was joined by Senators John Ensign of Nevada and Dianne Feinstein of California. Reid hosted the first Tahoe Summit in 1997 in response to declining clarity of the water and the environmental conditions of the Lake Tahoe Basin.
Reid is also the author and sponsor of the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act that authorizes $415 million for eight years and provides for fuels reduction, Environmental Improvement Program projects, storm water management and watershed restoration. . The theme of this year’s summit, Clarity for the Future: Protecting and Promoting the Wonder of Lake Tahoe, seeks to build on the environmental progress of the past decade and promote the economic sustainability of Lake Tahoe for the future.
Reid addressed the Summit’s opening session at Sand Harbor State Park. Below are his remarks as prepared:
“I remember almost 15 years ago – before this summit started – how frustrating it was to see Lake Tahoe, this gem of the Sierras, get less and less clear as it got more and more polluted every year. I knew we had to do something. I knew we needed a presidential summit.
“So I called President Clinton and Vice President Gore. The Administration held dozens of meetings throughout the Basin, bringing together every imaginable stakeholder of every possible group. These meetings identified the real problems and developed productive ideas and solutions to be presented here.
“When the President and Vice President came to Nevada, they didn’t come alone. Four United States Senators, six Cabinet Secretaries and a host of governors, congressmen and administrations officials turned out that first year.
“It wasn’t just local and state interests who showed up. People and press came from countries near and far. It was remarkable. We met just down the road at the Hyatt, and had so many people there we couldn’t all fit them in one room. It was standing-room only, and the energy level was still sky-high.
“That first summit gave me a new appreciation for how the health of our beloved lake is not Nevada’s concern alone. It’s the nation’s concern. It’s the world’s concern. That’s because Lake Tahoe is an international treasure. Mark Twain once described Lake Tahoe as “the fairest picture the whole earth affords.” He was right.
“You know, Lake Tahoe does not manufacture computers or computer chips. No one builds cars here, and there aren’t any factories.
“What Lake Tahoe does is it attracts visitors from all over the world – people who want to enjoy the beauty and recreation we have all worked very hard to protect these last 13 years. We can never stop protecting it.
“Since the first Summit, we have invested more than a billion-and-a-half dollars in federal, state and local support. A large part of this came 10 years ago from the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act. Right now we’re working to renew that legislation, which will bring in another $415 million and continue the work on invasive species, improving water clarity and helping to prevent the possible devastation from wildfires.
“And since that first year, we have talked about a host of issues important to the Lake. We’ve talked about clarity, wildfire prevention, fuels reduction, transportation, stream restoration, and a variety of other important and timely topics.
“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.
“So I think it’s altogether appropriate that we do this – not to displace our environmental focus, but to strengthen it. 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.
“The work we have done to preserve the beauty and natural wonder of this magnificent place, will ensure it will be an attraction for generations to come. That work, combined with the Travel Promotion Act, will help improve Nevada's economy and create 6,000 jobs across the state. The Travel Promotion Act will create a board modeled after the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to promote Nevada, the nation, and this great lake to the world. It's my hope that this Act, combined with environmental stewardship, will attract enough people to the Basin to keep our ski lifts running year-round.
“There are a few words you’ll hear a lot today. Sustainability. Economic strategy. Eco-tourism. Jobs. They are each central to our mission here, to our responsibility as citizens and to the future of the Lake.
“I am grateful to be working with such a committed group of people representing more than a dozen stakeholders groups that work tirelessly on these issues. This is exactly what happened before the first Summit and exactly what needs to happen here, right now.
“This series has been so productive because we have developed model public-private partnerships. We’ve brought together environmentalists, business leaders, and state and federal agencies.
“And with them all focused on the same goal – that is, making sure northern Nevada, the West, the nation and the world enjoy a lake as fair as the one Twain saw – the results will paint a picture just as inspiring.”