SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — It’s been 21 years since the first Tahoe Summit.
Since then, $2 Billion in federal, state and private funds has been collected and spent on keeping Lake Tahoe blue.
“We’ve completed more than 500 improvement and restorations projects,” Senator Diane Feinstein, D-California, said. “One hundred thirty-nine are underway now.”
But now that the money has been spent, that coalition of custodians safeguarding the lake needs fresh funding — and Congress has delivered, passing a bill that sets aside another $415 million for the lake.
“To protect the basin from a number of imminent threats,” Senator Dean Heller, R-Nevada, said.
The money will go toward thinning forests in the Tahoe basin to prevent forest fires, shoring up watersheds, countering the effects global warming and preventing invasive species from getting into the lake.
That’s an awful lot on the Lake Tahoe “Honey Do” list. But there’s another problem here.
Just because that funding bill has passed, that doesn’t guarantee the money will make it to the lake. There still has to be an appropriation, which is part of the normal budget process. This year, that process is very contentious.
“The appropriation of the money comes in September,” Rep. John Garamendi, D-Davis, said. “And all of the talk is simply going to be just that unless there’s money that follows.”
And the deeper concern for environmentalists — if one of America’s most iconic bodies of water can’t get the money, other natural wonders might not stand much of a chance.
“On this issue of the environment, suggesting that you at either in favor of the economy or you’re in favor of the environment. That’s nonsense. That’s a false choice we must reject,” Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, said. “We can do both.”
Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Roseville, agrees.
“By-and-large, when we look at the group that’s assembled today, we disagree on some issues but on this issue we are in 100-percent solidarity and agreement that we need to be concerned about climate change and its impact on this lake,” McClintock told FOX40
Tuesday’s summit wasn’t just about Republicans and Democrats having to find common ground, it was also two different states — California and Nevada — having to work together to decide what’s best for the lake.