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Vision of Tahoe's Future Changes Over the Decades

TitleVision of Tahoe's Future Changes Over the Decades
Author/CreatorCobourn, John; Purdy, Shelly; Segale, Heather M.
Related item(s)Press Release available at
Date Original2005-01-11
Summary/DescriptionLake Tahoe Report Segment #141 - "Vision of Tahoe's Future Changes Over the Decades" (Air Date: Nov. 1, 2005).
SubjectTahoe Regional Planning Agency
Water quality -- Tahoe, Lake (Calif. and Nev.)
LocationLake Tahoe (Calif. and Nev.)
Tahoe, Lake (Calif and Nev)
CollectionThe Lake Tahoe Report
Original PublisherLake Tahoe Environmental Education Coalition (
Electronic PublisherUniversity of Nevada, Reno - Department of Teaching and Learning Technologies
Ordering and Permissions InformationFor more information, contact the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, or 775-832-4138.
Date Digital2006-02-15
RelationWindows Media Player
Resource TypeMoving Image
Contributing InstitutionUniversity of Nevada, Reno
TranscriptionSegement 141 - When Coe Swobe first got involved in planning for the future of Lake Tahoe in the 1960s, many developers and officials had big ideas about development of the Tahoe Basin. "It appeared at that time that some people in county governments were competing to see how many subdivisions they could get approved, " he says. In the 1950s, the owners of the wetlands at the foot of the Upper Truckee River had been able to convince county officials that dredging and filling the wetlands for the Tahoe Keys was a good use for the "useless swampland." There was even a proposal for a freeway circling Lake Tahoe, with a bridge across the mouth of Emerald Bay. Another freeway was proposed to follow an alignment not far from the current Tahoe Rim Trail. Imagine a Tahoe Rim Freeway! Swobe says it appeared to him that local governments at that time sought growth and development, because it would improve the tax base. Projections for the population of the basin at build-out ranged from 300, 000 to over 600, 000 people. "There were about 60 different agencies with jurisdiction over development proposals at Lake Tahoe. We needed to have an agency that could formulate one set of minimum uniform standards for development that would protect the environment, " Swobe explains. Nevada Gov. Paul Laxalt; California Gov. Ronald Reagan; Swobe, then a state senator; and others who appreciated the unique and fragile beauty of the Tahoe Basin called for the governments of California and Nevada to form a Joint Study Committee in 1965. Laxalt and Reagan feared that Lake Tahoe might turn gray on their watch, and this was something they did not want for their legacy. The Joint Study Committee recommended that a Tahoe Regional Planning Agency be formed by California and Nevada. Swobe helped write the legislation that was passed by each state legislature in 1968. In 1969, the U.S. Congress approved the Lake Tahoe Bi-state Compact, which was signed into law by President Richard Nixon in December. The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) held its first meeting in March 1970. There were difficulties and growing pains at first, and the USDA Forest Service and many local citizens worked hard to solve early problems. The Compact was amended in 1980. Once the TRPA created its planning and development standards, all the counties had to impose the same restrictions for land use on wetlands, steep slopes and other erosion-prone areas. Subdivision of land slowed down dramatically. Many current residents and visitors are glad that the TRPA was formed to limit development and protect the water quality and natural beauty of the basin. The long-term plans of the TRPA, the USDA Forest Service, the Lahontan Water Quality Control Board and the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection are now due for revision. In a process known as Pathway 2007, citizens and agency staff from both states are currently updating the plans in a coordinated fashion. Since the revisions of all plans are due in 2007, the four agencies have convened many technical working groups and a citizens' advisory group, called the Forum, to formulate improvements to the plans. Much discussion has taken place in the past year to determine the "desired conditions" for the lake and its watershed. In our next four articles, we will examine the components of a new, comprehensive vision for the future of the Tahoe Basin. We will look at the vision of citizens for the future of transportation, recreation, and socioeconomic conditions in the basin. We will also examine some of the values that people hold for the vegetation, scenery, fish and wildlife habitat, and water and air quality in the basin. The formation of a vision for Tahoe's future is open to all citizens. To get involved in the process, see the Web site

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