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Advocacy: Lake Tahoe's Unsung Hero
Our advocacy and policy experts keep a watchful eye on projects and plans that may impact the health and clarity of Lake Tahoe.

Our team engages, collaborates and speaks on behalf of the Lake to ensure we Keep Tahoe Blue. Here are some projects we're working on now.
Photo: NASA
North Shore Highway Improvements
Photo: Nevada News & Views
What is it? The Nevada Department of Transportation will embark on a $35 million project to repave and enhance nearly 15 miles of State Routes 28 and 431 centered around Incline Village. The ailing roadways were last improved nearly 14 years ago and are due for upgrades.

The project focuses on State Route 28 from the Nevada/California border to south of Sand Harbor State Park, and on State Route 431 (Mt. Rose Highway) from the State Route 28 roundabout in Incline Village to the Tahoe Rim Trailhead at Mt. Rose Summit. These roadways will be resurfaced with more durable paving material that will help prevent harmful stormwater pollution from running off the roads and into Lake Tahoe. Sidewalks and ADA compliant curbs will be constructed in key spots. The project also includes drainage improvements where Marlette Creek crosses beneath State Route 28, enhancing water quality and ensuring additional stormwater treatment before reaching Lake Tahoe.

Where is it in the process? The Nevada State Board of Transportation approved the contract for the highway improvement project in mid February.

What’s next? Construction will begin this spring and span the 2021 and 2022 summer construction seasons, which stretch from May through October.

What is the League’s position? SUPPORT
The League supports projects that improve degraded transportation infrastructure in the Basin to keep harmful stormwater pollution out of Lake Tahoe. Auto traffic grinds pavement into small particles of dust and debris, which washes off our roadways and into the Lake when it rains or snow melts. This fine sediment pollution is the single largest driver of water clarity loss in Lake Tahoe.

Critical transportation infrastructure improvements, combined with an interconnected, Basin-wide system of free, frequent and fun alternative transportation options, will help strike a balance between human enjoyment of Lake Tahoe and its environmental preservation into the future.

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East Shore Litter & Erosion Control
Thunderbird Cove
What is it? The Thunderbird Cove trail and pullout off State Route 28 is constantly impacted by litter, graffiti, campfires and erosion due to recreationists and illegal, off-pavement parking. The popularity of this stretch of the east shore also creates safety risks, as visitors walk along the narrow highway shoulder to and from the trailhead. Due to a lack of signage announcing litter and parking restrictions, enforcement is lacking, which has perpetuated the problem of overuse and abuse.

Through a coordinated effort spearheaded by the League's advocacy team, the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit (LTBMU) and Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) are taking steps to stop these pollution impacts.

NDOT will install signage along the highway from Marlette Creek to Thunderbird Cove, create curbs and gutters to direct stormwater into filtration channels, and potentially create a new paved parking area. LTBMU will install no-littering signage along the trail and erect barricades to prevent erosion from illegal parking at the trailhead pullout.

Where is it in the process? NDOT and LTBMU have agreed upon their action plans, and a funding source is in place. 

What’s next? Work will begin in May at the start of the summer grading and construction season. The parking barricades will be installed first, with other work to follow.

What is the League’s position? SUPPORT
Due to overuse and abuse, Tahoe's popular recreation sites are at risk of being loved to death. Litter and erosion-driven stormwater pollution are degrading the Lake's scenic beauty, its water quality and its delicate ecology.

Coordinated, multi-agency projects such as this one are key to preserving Tahoe's environment, while ensuring visitors can safely and responsibly enjoy and appreciate all Tahoe has to offer.

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Tahoe City Cross-Country Center Expansion
Image: Tahoe City Public Utility District
What is it? As part of a plan to upgrade the Tahoe Cross-Country Center, the Tahoe City Public Utility District is proposing to relocate and expand its current lodge by repurposing the historic Schilling Lodge and adding additional parking. The expansion and relocation – to Polaris Road adjacent to the North Tahoe High School and North Tahoe Middle School – will result in additional traffic on narrow neighborhood streets and increased vehicle miles travelled (VMT), which is an important planning metric used to limit negative impacts on Tahoe's sensitive environment.

Where is it in the process? The Tahoe City Public Utility District voted to approve the project and finalize its Environmental Impact Report on February 25.

What’s next? The project must be approved by the Placer County Board of Supervisors and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency's Governing Board to have full clearance to move ahead. The Cross-Country Center's operator, the Tahoe Cross-Country Ski Education Association, must also raise the funds to construct the project.

What is the League’s position?
IN PROGRESS opposed without additional mitigation
The review process for this project was conducted with a bare minimum of public involvement, despite impacts to a residential neighborhood where a middle and high school are located. The project proponents intentionally took advantage of regulatory loopholes to avoid mitigating the increased transportation impacts the project will create, which affect the local community and potentially the Lake Tahoe environment.

This process sets a poor example for how development and re-development should be conducted in the Tahoe Basin. The League submitted multiple public comments and advocated strongly that the project should not be permitted to skirt regulatory requirements or disregard community input. Our advocacy experts will continue to be deeply engaged in the process as it moves forward.

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Washoe County's Tahoe Area Plan
Photo: Kevin Neubauer/Flickr Creative Commons
What is it? The 2012 Tahoe Regional Plan Update provides goals and requirements to guide community development, improve transportation, strengthen Tahoe's economy, preserve the local environment and restore the Basin's unique ecosystem. As part of that broad plan, cities and counties within the Basin create Tahoe Area Plans (TAP's) to implement the Regional Plan's goals in a way that fits the character and values of their individual communities.

Washoe County is taking steps to create its TAP for Crystal Bay, Incline Village and other areas of Tahoe's north shore that fall within the County.

Where is it in the process? In late January, the Washoe County Board of Commissioners passed the first reading of its Tahoe Area Plan. A second reading and another passing vote is required, after which the TAP will move to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) for review and approval.

What’s next? After passing through the Washoe County Board of Commissioners, the TAP will be taken up by TRPA's Regional Plan Implementation Committee and Advisory Planning Commission before coming before the Governing Board for a final decision, as soon as the end of May.

What is the League’s position?
IN PROGRESS supportive
When implemented, TAP's help protect Lake Tahoe from stormwater pollution and development-related environmental impacts, while building the Basin's resilience to a changing climate all objectives the League favors.

Washoe County's TAP is geared to reflect the community's embrace of outdoor recreation and alternative transportation. It includes elements to lower greenhouse gas emissions, reduce land coverage and stormwater pollution, as well as improve transportation by implementing a coordinated parking management system and facilitating expanded alternative transportation options.

The League has advocated for Washoe County to strengthen the greenhouse gas reduction policies in its TAP and include a system of monitoring and adaptive management to ensure Regional Plan goals are being met. Our policy team will remain engaged and continue to push for improvements as the Washoe County Tahoe Area Plan comes before TRPA for consideration.

More Information
League comment letters: 1/7/2021 & 1/26/2021
League's Bubble Curtain in the Spotlight
For the past eight years, the League's scientists have been deeply engaged in efforts to tackle the threat of aquatic invasive species, which is centered in the Tahoe Keys' 172 acres of infested lagoons. One of the innovative techniques we've implemented is a bubble curtain, which mimics the bubble netting technique humpback whales use to catch fish. In the Keys, the bubble curtain corrals floating weed fragments so they don't spread the infestation into Lake Tahoe.

In recent weeks, the bubble curtain has received widespread media attention. Here is a sample of the coverage.
In recognition of the first bubble curtain's success, three more will be installed in Lake Tahoe this year to control aquatic invasive species. But there's still much work to be done to protect Lake Tahoe from invasive species. The League will continue to lead.
Lake Tahoe News
The State of Nevada is looking for public input on how to enhance outdoor recreation opportunities across the state. Take this short survey to share what you value about Nevada's outdoors, including Tahoe.

It may or may not snow, but plastic sled trash is always in Tahoe's forecast. Help combat this persistent form of pollution by practicing good #slediquette this winter.

Upcoming Events
The US Forest Service has plans to update its Tahoe trail system to accommodate e-bikes, and it wants to know what you think. Join to learn more and have your voice heard.

Thursday, April 22 | 7:00pm
Celebrate Earth Day with an event that combines award-winning environmental and adventure films with the energy of local activism.

The Shirt for Your Year-Round Playground
Lake Tahoe has so much to offer everyday and all yearlong! Help us protect our natural playground by grabbing a four seasons long-sleeve tee today. They're on sale!

Designed and printed locally by RISE Designs, our long-sleeve tee is made from 100% recycled materials without the use of dyes or chemicals – perfect for every #TahoeBlueGooder, anytime of the year.

All proceeds benefit programs to Keep Tahoe Blue, now and for future generations. 
Support Our Work
Our efforts to Keep Tahoe Blue including our role as an environmental watchdog depend on the generosity of our members and supporters. Thank you for donating to protect Lake Tahoe.
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