TRPA. Impartial?

Gated pier, Lake Tahoe, California

Recent events have brought to mind an interesting Op-Ed from the San Francisco Chronicle in support of a federal judge’s injunction against the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s (TRPA’s) policy allowing an increase of piers and buoys in Lake Tahoe.

At Tahoe, I am reminded often of the old joke that the best two days of a boat owner’s life is the day he buys the boat and the day he sells it.  The commerce surrounding boats and marinas at Tahoe certainly contributes to the local economy.  I am unclear, though, as to why piers cannot be shared.  I put this question to one home owner who would like to install a pier.  “It raises our home value,” was the answer.  From my perspective, on the lake in a kayak enjoying the shoreline, the piers detract from the property value.

The SacBee has reported on the new “eco-friendly” development Boulder Bay Resort & Wellness Center resort being planned for the Biltmore property at North Shore stateline.  The supporters champion the green roofs, reduced erosion, the resort’s emphasis on spa rather than gambling, and, of course, jobs.  The critics question the traffic, the need for another resort, and TRPA’s eventual build-out of Tahoe.  Current resort development projects elsewhere on the Lake Tahoe include the major South Tahoe Redevelopment and the gearing up of Homewood Mountain Resort’s make-over and expansion.

In the Bee article, TRPA spokesman Dennis Oliver is quoted:

Oliver believes deeper currents are swirling. “A lot of these conflicts and lawsuits are about the environmentalists wishing the world were different,” he said. “They want their reality to dictate policy.” And, he added, “Their fundraising depends on conflict.”

These are unfortunate remarks, which, when turned around, raise interesting questions of their own.  How does TRPA view the world?  What does their “fundraising” depend upon?

Or as one reader commented to me:

Just replace the word “environmentalists” with “developers” in the spokesman’s quote above, and you’ll know what the real situation is.  I looked up the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s mission:  “The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency cooperatively leads the effort to preserve, restore and enhance the unique natural and human environment of the Lake Tahoe region now and in the future.”  That a spokesman for an agency supposedly charged with protecting resources for future generations could make such a ridiculous statement is an indictment of their organization.

Historic Shoreline Change at Lake Tahoe from 1938 to 1998 and Its Impact

Wetland. South Lake Tahoe, California.

In the next few posts I wanted to turn people on to some of the great work being done on Tahoe by the folks at the Desert Research Institute.

A few years back Ken Adams and Tim Minor wrote a shoreline study:

“Historic Shoreline Change at Lake Tahoe from 1938 to 1998 and Its Impact on Sediment and
Nutrient Loading” ( Journal of Coastal Research, Vol. 18, No. 4 (Autumn, 2002), pp. 637-651, Published by: Allen Press)  You can find it here:

They found that 7,150 metric tons of shoreline sediment erode into Lake Tahoe each year.  From this, they estimate that approximately 2 metric tons of phosphorus and 1.8 metric tons of nitrogen also wash into the lake each year. These shore zone erosion rates are second only to stream loading.  They conclude that shore zone erosion contributes significantly to sediment loading and less so to the Lake Tahoe’s nutrient budget.