LAKE TAHOE (KPIX 5) — 20 years after the first Tahoe Summit, a new meeting to evaluate the environmental state of the lake and region around it has resulted in a mixed report card.
On one hand, visitors are doing a better job of keeping pollution and sediment out of the lake, finally halting that long-term decline in lake clarity.
“So Tahoe today is healthier and more resilient because we never shied away from a challenge,” said Joanne Marchetta of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency
But now Lake Tahoe faces a new challenge staying blue.
“It is warming 10 times faster than it did in history. Global warming is affecting this lake,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
That warmer water makes it easier for algae to grow. And with the warm summer season having increased by 26 days over the last 50 years, there is also evidence of greater threats on land.
“The fill-in of our forest — and the fire potential — and the actual fires that take place,” said Feinstein.
On that front, multiple agencies will start tackling the some 136,000 dead trees in the Tahoe Basin and get more aggressive with forest management.
That is something Republicans have wanted for years.
“We’ve certainly turned the corner, the management tools are now in place, and we must use them with the urgency that our forest conditions demand, and pray that we’re not too late.”
But the real focus Tuesday was on climate change, a challenge that extends far beyond Tahoe’s shoreline.
“The proverbial ground on which we stand continues to shift, and the change we confront today is in fact much larger than Tahoe. This change quite literally is global,” said Marchetta.
One threat officials have managed to control pretty well so far is invasive species like weeds, clams and mussels.
That’s why they’ve inspected and decontaminated tens of thousands of boats.
But one species that is coming in greater numbers is humans.
Three million people now visit Tahoe every year. That number is expected to surge and will also require management as well.