Padilla Announces Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi as Keynote for the 27th Annual Lake Tahoe Summit
U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) announced that the 27th annual Lake Tahoe Summit will feature Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi as the keynote speaker. This year’s summit will be held on Aug. 9 and will highlight Tahoe’s Environmental Improvement Program, a successful bipartisan, bi-state collaboration among local, state, federal, and private entities. It will also examine the challenges that lie ahead in the face of climate change and increasingly unpredictable weather whiplash, as well as the growing demands on regional infrastructure.
With 20 years as the House Democratic Leader and Speaker, Pelosi has been dedicated to driving the nation towards a greener and more sustainable future. Among her most recent and remarkable achievements is the landmark Inflation Reduction Act, the most sweeping climate action Congress has ever taken. This groundbreaking legislation allocated an astounding $369 billion to combat the climate crisis, making transformative environmental investments aimed at slashing carbon pollution, reducing energy costs through energy-efficient solutions, strengthening energy security, decarbonizing the economy, and prioritizing environmental justice.
As a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, Padilla secured provisions in the Water Resources Development Act of 2022 to authorize U.S. Army Corps of Engineers civil works and ecosystem restoration activities in the Lake Tahoe Basin, including the planning, design, and construction of urban stormwater treatment facilities, watershed science, and environmental restoration. Most recently, Padilla was joined by his colleagues in introducing bipartisan, bicameral legislation to extend the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act through 2034.
The Lake Tahoe Summit will be held at Kings Beach State Recreation Area and is free and open to the public. Due to limited on-site parking, attendees are encouraged to use public transportation or the complimentary shuttle service to get to and from the summit. There will also be a bicycle valet service courtesy of the Lake Tahoe Bicycle Coalition.
~ U.S. Senator Alex Padillla press release
Tahoe National Forest Implements Stage 1 Fire Restrictions
Tahoe National Forest implemented Stage 1 fire restrictions starting Aug. 1 due to high fire danger from persistent hot and dry weather conditions. Under these restrictions, the public can still maintain a campfire in established fire rings within designated developed campgrounds and day-use sites, but not outside of those areas.
The decision to go into fire restrictions is based on a variety of factors. Forest managers use several criteria to determine when to implement restrictions, including current and predicted weather, fuel moisture, fire activity levels and available firefighting resources.
Under Stage 1 restrictions, the following are prohibited Aug. 1 through Nov. 1:
- Building or maintaining a fire, campfire, or charcoal briquette fire outside of established fire rings within designated developed campgrounds and picnic areas.
- Smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a designated campground or recreation area, or while stopped in an area at least 3 feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable material.
- Operating an internal combustion engine off paved, gravel, or dirt National Forest System roads and trails, except within the Prosser Pits Developed Off-Highway Vehicle Area and boats on a water surface.
The full forest order and list of designated developed recreation sites can be found here.
~ Forest Service press release
Federal Help with Wildfire Insurance, Increased Staff on Federal Lands
Supervisor Heidi Hall is working with the National Association of Counties to advocate for federal help for the loss of wildfire insurance and to get more staff on federal recreation lands.
Because of her resolution at the group’s recent conference, the association will lobby for a federal assistance backstop to replace lost fire insurance in rural forested areas. “For example, for floods and earthquakes, there is a federal insurance pool that can kick in to help victims of those disasters when regular insurance coverage fails,” Hall said. “We believe we need something like this for wildlife disasters.”
As a result of another resolution by Hall, the association will also request more resources for recreation staff on public lands and ask federal authorities to streamline their hiring process for rangers and other personnel.
Hall made the two successful resolutions at the association’s conference in Austin, Texas last week.
“When we try to solve big problems for Nevada County folks, problems like broadband expansion, fire insurance coverage, or more help to keep our public lands clean and safe and beautiful for recreation, we can’t do it alone,” Hall said. “This is where the National Association of Counties comes in. We attend these meetings to help our federal partners understand our rural issues, and to lobby for resources and for policy changes. To that end, this year’s NACO conference was a success for Nevada County, and counties like it.”
Hall was also appointed to positions on three of the association’s boards. She was named as one of only two California representatives to the association’s Western Interstate Region board. She was also appointed to lead the newly formed Recreation Lands Subcommittee on the Public Lands Committee and she was reappointed to the Resiliency Action Counties Board that focuses on emergency management at the county level.
~ Nevada County press release
New Aquatic Robot Cleans Lake Tahoe’s Waters
League to Save Lake Tahoe has teamed up with ECO-CLEAN Solutions and the Tahoe Keys Marina to introduce an aquatic robot that glides across the surface, removing water-borne debris and aquatic weeds — meet the PixieDrone.
The PixieDrone is an electric, autonomous, and programmable motorized skimmer. As it moves through the water, the robot captures debris inside its open “mouth,” just like manta rays and humpback whales capture prey. Thanks to on-board Lidar technology (light detection and ranging), the PixieDrone avoids obstacles and adjusts its course in real time, allowing it to navigate between docks, pilings and boat slips as it cleans along a pre-mapped route.
The Tahoe Keys Marina is almost entirely infested with aquatic invasive plants. As boats leave the marina, plants are carried into the lake, threatening to start new infestations when they settle to the bottom and resprout. The PixieDrone will corral, collect, and remove the harmful weeds so they can’t spread. It can also clean up gas spills and be fitted with scientific equipment to assess water quality. The PixieDrone is currently being tested in the Tahoe Keys Marina where data is being collected and operations perfected for potential future use in other parts of Tahoe.
While Tahoe’s attraction as a travel destination increases, so too does the stress on its ecosystem. Traditional methods for tackling litter on the land and in the water are no longer sufficient. The PixieDrone is the first technology of its kind to be used on the West Coast. Like its robotic, beach-cleaning cousin BEBOT, the PixieDrone represents a novel approach to mitigating environmental impacts. The project partners know that these new tools, if they prove effective, will bolster time-tested techniques and elevate the standard for environmental protection at home in the Sierra and abroad.
Learn more about the PixieDrone at keeptahoeblue.org/pixie.
~ League to Save Lake Tahoe press release
Office of Emergency Services Receives Achievement Award
The National Association of Counties, NACo, held its annual conference and expo in Travis County, Texas. Nevada County District 1 Supervisor Heidi Hall was in attendance to receive the 2023 NACo Achievement Award: Best in Category on behalf of the Nevada County Office of Emergency Services (OES). The county stood out among its peers nationally in the Risk and Emergency Management category for implementing the first of its kind “Firewise Communities Microgrant Program.”
The program was designed to address the abundance of flammable vegetation on private property and roadways as a result of the 2022 snow storms. Fire prevention experts, local government leaders, and the public at large agree that clear evacuation routes are critical during a wildfire. OES Director Craig Griesbach said, “Historically, figuring out how to support cleanup on private roadways has been an unmet need in our community. We were excited to be able to offer this program last year and will continue to look for resources that support these communities.”
The Firewise Communities Microgrant Program was funded with a $100,000 grant from the League of California Community Foundations’ Disaster Relief, Recovery, and Resilience Funds with support from the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation to administer directly to Firewise Communities. The program supported collaborative projects that provided community-wide benefits, such as renting a chipper for community use, contracting for transportation of downed vegetation to processing sites, renting equipment, or hiring a contractor to clear evacuation routes on private roadways.
Nevada County boasts the most recognized Firewise Communities of any county in the nation.
~ Nevada County press release