Abstract: Closing Plenary Session  11:00 am (BACK)

A Market Drive Approach to Improve Stream Function:
The Lake Tahoe Example

John C. Tracy
Director Texas Water Resources Institute
Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension

Lake Tahoe is often referred to as the Jewel of the Sierra, sitting at over 6,200 feet AMSL on the border between Nevada and California.  It is one of the largest alpine lakes in North America, with a surface area of approximately 125,000 acres, and a depth of over 1,600 feet, and at times its water clarity that has exceeded 100 feet. While there has always been concern for the environmental condition within the Lake Tahoe basin, only within the last 50 years have attempts been made to restore condition of the many streams that drain into Lake Tahoe, and to manage land use within the basin to mitigate impacts that human activities have had on its environment.  These efforts began with the formation of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) through the bi-state Tahoe Regional Planning compact between Nevada and California.  The TRPA is charged with attaining environmental threshold carrying capacities so that the unique values of the Lake Tahoe basin can be protected.  To aid in this effort, the TRPA created several programs which were designed to provide a comprehensive approach to improve environmental conditions within the basin to restore Tahoe’s watersheds and streams, and ultimately lead to the improvement in the water quality within Lake Tahoe itself.  Of these programs, the Individual Parcel Evaluation System (IPES) provides a mechanism to incentivize land development practices that aid in improving stream conditions, and in reaching restoration goals. This presentation provides an overview of the elements of the IPES program, along with an assessment of the effectiveness of the program related to meeting water quality goals for several of Lake Tahoe’s contributing streams.  In addition, thoughts on the transferability of this approach to aid in stream restoration in other hydrographic regions of the United States will be discussed.