February 20 2013

Keep Tahoe Blue: The Regional Challenges of Protecting the Largest Alpine Lake in North America

Lake TahoeIf you have ever been to Lake Tahoe, California, I’m sure you can agree with me that it is one of the most breathtaking spots in the U.S. Situated between Nevada and California, with seventy-two miles of shoreline and the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range as its backdrop, this alpine lake is known for both its beauty and clarity. Visitors flock from all around the country to enjoy the wonders and recreational opportunities that Lake Tahoe has to offer. Although this is great for the local economy, it leads to an increase of human activities and urban development around the lake. As a result the lake’s famed clarity, which once measured 100 feet deep, has declined thirty percent since 1968.

Over the years, Lake Tahoe has faced multiple threats including: pollution, cultural eutrophication, sediment erosion, invasive species and more recently, the impacts of climate change. Because of its location at the bottom of a very deep basin, there are sixty-three streams and tributaries that flow into the lake, but only one that flows out. Consequently, environmental contaminants can easily flow into the lake from multiple sources, but very little can flow back out. This is why it is so important to prevent runoff at all levels and protect natural filtration systems such as wetlands that remove excess nutrients before runoff reaches the lake.

Lake Tahoe: ClarityLake Tahoe: Up Close

In response to the multiple threats and environmental challenges Lake Tahoe faces, multiple groups and agencies have been created to promote the environmental integrity of the lake, and to protect its future and sustainability. Additionally, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency was established in 1969 between California and Nevada in order to best coordinate development surrounding the lake. This bi-state compact works to uphold strict regulations and promote environmental restoration. Recently, the compact has been challenged due to politics involving land use, with some citizens hoping for laxer development regulations, and others fighting for the continued protection of this natural treasure.

The future of Lake Tahoe, and protecting our environment as a whole, lies in our hands. To learn more about Lake Tahoe, and what you can do to protect its future, visit The League to Save Lake Tahoe’s website.

What are some environmental regional challenges urban planners in your community face?

Credits: Images by Amanda Christian. Data linked to sources.

Alex Riemondy

Alex Riemondy is a recent graduate of Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Environmental Studies, and a Certificate in Urban and Regional Planning. Her interests in urban planning first stemmed from a cross-country bicycle trip in support of affordable housing. During the trip she became fascinated with connecting communities through the development of safe cycling routes. On a bike, she is constantly thinking about her urban environment and how it can grow to meet the needs of her community. Although currently living in Hummelstown, PA - having recently returned from working on a permaculture farm in Costa Rica - she plans to pursue a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning in Southern California. Finding happiness through connecting with her community and environment, she is most interested in improving citizen quality of life though: bicycle and pedestrian planning, green street design, and increasing citizen participation in the planning process.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 20th, 2013 at 9:04 am and is filed under Environment, Government/Politics, Land Use, Urban Development/Real Estate. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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