Aug 25 2020
Washington—During today’s Tahoe Environmental Summit, the 24th annual event and the first to be held virtually, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) offered remarks on the work that has been done to restore and protect the Tahoe Basin and the work that remains to be done. Her remarks follow and video is available here:
“Hello, I’m Senator Dianne Feinstein and I want to thank you so much for joining us for the 24th annual Lake Tahoe Summit.
This is a bit different. This year is obviously very different than previous years. But it’s important that we all stay healthy and safe so we can come back together next year on the shores of this wonderful and beautiful lake.
I’d like to thank Senator Cortez Masto for organizing this year’s summit under these very difficult conditions. She’s attended every summit since taking office and I’m grateful for her unwavering commitment to our lake.
While this summit may look different than previous years, the challenges facing us are just as great.
As many of you know, the first Lake Tahoe Summit was held in 1997 when Senator Harry Reid invited President Clinton to hold a presidential forum at Incline Village. Some of you may have actually been there.
After the 1997 summit, both sides – Nevada and California – came together to form an unprecedented public-private partnership that has endured to this day. I call that partnership Team Tahoe, and I’m so proud to be a member of it.
Team Tahoe has invested more than $2.4 billion in the Lake Tahoe Basin, including more than $790 million from the federal government. That money has funded nearly 700 restoration projects all around the basin.
Each year we try to list off some of Team Tahoe’s accomplishments. And let me do this now:
- We’ve constructed 162 miles of bike and pedestrian trails.
- We’ve reduced the risk of wildfire on nearly 85,000 acres of forest.
- 1,757 acres, you’ll be please to know, of streams and watersheds have been restored.
- More than 87,000 boats have been inspected and 40,000 have been decontaminated to keep invasive species out of this beautiful lake.
- And we’ve improved 832 miles of roads to prevent erosion and stormwater pollution, which had been a big problem.
Despite the tremendous success these projects have had in restoring our lake, we now face our biggest test, and guess what it is: climate change.
Climate change is already having a profound effect on this lake and it threatens to rollback much of our progress. It’s allowing invasive species to thrive, it’s killing off trees, it’s cutting off the snowpack and it’s reducing water clarity in the lake.
Last year, the average clarity depth dropped to 62.7 feet, down a whole eight feet from 2018. That drop is alarming to me because it clearly shows that climate change is slowing the progress we’re making on the lake.
While part of this decline can be attributed to other factors like the lake mixing for the first time in eight years, this has increased precipitation and the rapid growth of Mysis shrimp.
It’s also the result of warming temperatures, particularly in the summer months.
So, for every step we take forward, climate change threatens to make us take two steps back.
This is a call to action and we’ve got to respond with urgency and science-based solutions. Team Tahoe has and will continue to answer that call.
The enduring commitment between local, state and federal governments and local businesses to save our shared lake has never been stronger. And, it’s going to take that resilient spirit to confront the new challenges facing Lake Tahoe – but we’re up to the task.
Thank you, thank you so much for supporting Lake Tahoe – the Jewel of the Sierras! And I look forward to seeing you next year at the 25th Lake Tahoe Summit! Thank you.”