The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency was created in 1969 by a compact between California and Nevada that was ratified by Congress. The TRPA governing board is made up of 15 members: seven from California, seven from Nevada, and one non-voting presidential appointee.
Six members are locally
elected officials representing five counties and one incorporated
city that share the lake. But the compact provides for the majority
of seats to be held by representatives from outside the Tahoe
basin, so the board will focus on regional and national interests
and not just local concerns.
The TRPA's mission
statement, which was recently simplified at the urging of board
member Steve Wynn, is "to lead the cooperative effort to preserve,
restore, and enhance the unique natural and human environment of
the Lake Tahoe region."
That message is
contained in the agency's brochures, but there is little that
communicates the TRPA's mission in the bland two-story office
building in Zephyr Cove, which houses the agency on the Nevada side
of the lake.
The heart of the agency's efforts
is contained in two hefty documents. The first document, the
inch-and-a-half-thick Draft 1996 Evaluation Report: Environmental
Threshold Carrying Capacities and the Regional Plan Package for the
Lake Tahoe Region, contains detailed reports on the agency's
progress - or more accurately, lack of progress - over the last 10
years toward bringing the basin in line with its "threshold
standards' in nine areas: water quality, air quality, soil
conservation, vegetation, fish habitat, wildlife habitat, noise,
scenic resources and recreation.
smaller Draft Environmental Improvement Program for the Lake Tahoe
Region, contains descriptions of 546 projects totaling $730 million
that the agency hopes to undertake - some in cooperation with other
agencies and private interests - over the next 10 years to make
more progress toward reaching the basin's "threshold standards."
The TRPA's $3.4 million annual budget is funded
by the California and Nevada state legislatures, local agencies,
federal grants and fines and impact fees, such as a $2,000 air
quality fee and a $1.25 per square foot water-quality fee imposed
on new single-family homes.
problems, including a threat by the California Legislature to slash
the agency's budget, agency director Jim Baetge is
"There's nothing but
good that can happen in this basin," he said. "In the 1970s, we
couldn't make progress because of the friction, but there's a
general acceptance and willingness to proceed now. What brings most
players back is our agreement that, in order to get environmental
improvement, you need economic development. You can't do it in a
weak economy. You need both. The attraction is Tahoe. If you lose
it, you lose your
"And we're losing
this lake," Baetge added. "We can't sit around for another 20 years
and decide how to resolve it. We don't have that time anymore. We
have to move forward or in 40 years this lake will look like any
other lake in the country, and that would be an absolute crime."
For information, contact TRPA, P.O. Box 1038,
308 Dorla Court, Zephyr Cove, NV 89448, (702/588-4547), e-mail:
email@example.com; home page address: