TRPA Hopes Schwarzenegger Keeps Tahoe Promise

Lake Tahoe
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Regional officials responsible for protecting Lake Tahoe say they are hopeful Arnold Schwarzenegger will keep campaign promises to help "keep Tahoe blue."

The new governor-elect of California promised on the campaign trail to make the multimillion-dollar task of restoring the lake a high priority.

So far, California has provided more than $245 million to the $904 million environmental improvement plan for the lake.

"Certainly there's a level of uncertainty any time an administration changes, but we're optimistic," said Jerry Wells, acting director of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, the agency formed by California and Nevada to address Tahoe's environmental problems.

"Tahoe's pretty much been treated as a nonpartisan issue. The commitments have really been there and were really hopeful that level of commitment will continue," he told the Reno Gazette-Journal.

A statement on his campaign Web site lists Tahoe's restoration as among the action-film hero's top environmental goals as governor.

The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency's plan for the Tahoe Basin needs to be updated and completion of projects in the plan speeded up, according to the statement.

"As governor, I will take action to update the plan to accelerate improvement of Tahoe's waters, trails and wildlife, in order to keep Tahoe blue," Schwarzenegger said.

Dave Solaro, the El Dorado County supervisor who chairs TRPA's governing board, said the remarks are encouraging. But Solaro and others agreed that when it comes to protecting Lake Tahoe, political partisanship is generally not a problem.

Although Democratic Gov. Gray Davis was a strong supporter of Tahoe programs, so was his predecessor, Republican Pete Wilson, officials said. The same is evident at the federal level, where both Democratic and Republican congressional representatives are cooperating for Tahoe's benefit.

Harold Singer, executive officer of the Tahoe-based Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, said he will "wait and see" what the new governor's commitment to protecting the environment will be but said he's also optimistic Tahoe won't suffer from the change in leadership.

"You see slight changes in philosophies, but overall the direction is that Tahoe is a treasure to be protected," Singer said.