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Judge Announces Big Victory for Tahoe

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
20 September 2010, 1:43 PM
Extensive expansion of piers and other facilities is derailed
Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe.

"I thought it must surely be the fairest picture the whole world affords."

Thus spake Mark Twain of Lake Tahoe, the magnificent high-altitude lake nestled in an alpine cup between Nevada and California.

But, as with so many other places, Tahoe's fatal beauty has led to too much development—too many homes, too many casinos, too many cars, too many piers, and too many boats. The clarity of the water has suffered, as has the purity of the air.

The lake is supposed to be protected by the bi-state Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, but the agency has been kinder to developers than it has been to the lake. For this reason, the League to Save Lake Tahoe and the Sierra Club sued two years ago to challenge a plan that would have allowed construction of 138 new piers, plus boat ramps, buoys, and other facilities around the lake, that would have increased boat traffic by an estimated 62,000 trips a year. This would have a deleterious effect on air and water quality and in general add to the overall commotion. The groups were represented by Wendy Park of Earthjustice.

On September 17, federal judge Lawrence Karlton in Sacramento blocked the development plan and told the agency to try again. His ruling also suggests that another upcoming plan, this one covering development on land throughout the Tahoe basin, will face similar scrutiny to ensure that it protects and restores the lake, rather than contributing further to its decline.

The fight to save Lake Tahoe has been going on for decades. This looks like a major turning point.

Earthjustice seems to be one of the few effective legal guardians of our planet, and for that I am grateful. Based on the intent of the shorezone plan, I question how long will the existing governing structure remain? How long can we afford to allow doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results to continue? Unfortunately, Lake Tahoe depends on people to save it from people.

This is good news, but we can't stop all future growth. As things change, we must find creative ways to protect and sustain the environment, the economy, and the community. Sustainability and the future of Lake Tahoe is linked geotourism. The Sustainable Tahoe Congress held at Sand Harbor on September 16, 2010, clearly demonstrated the possibilities for an exciting future, if people are willing to work together. Anyone concerned about the community, the environment, and the economy, of Lake Tahoe should get involved with Sustainable Tahoe. Visit their website at:

We should insist that all new development not allow Blacktop within a designated area close to the lake for low speed traffic and Parking. This Blacktop run off in many cases runs straight into the Lake.. Case in point Cave Rock Boat ramp.... The "Re-Oiling" which was again applied dries and runs right into the lake and on to the beach there......:(
Andrew Vear
Sustainable Ecological Paving Solutions

I've visited relatives there several times and especially noted more development last summer. It is a tricky thing, to keep a place from being loved to death, and I hope Lake Tahoe is saved.

You may have noticed the developement on South Shore do to the fire a few years ago! Many are still rebuilding, and without tree cover it looks stark.

Hopes the courts will continue denying development on this land and all national & county park ares!

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