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Lake Tahoe Seaplane Pilots Preserve Historic Access to Lake Tahoe

July 19, 2010

As discussed in earlier Blog posts, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) proposed new regulations to control noise from seaplanes in the course of updating their Regional Plan.  The new regulations would ban all seaplane operations (including taxi) within 1 mile of the shoreline and further ban seaplane bases and docking facilities.  The TRPA is a federally chartered bi-state agency created to preserve and enhance the beauty of the Lake Tahoe Basin and has considerable authority over many activities within the Lake Tahoe Basin.

SPA Field Director Walter Windus participated with the Lake Tahoe Seaplane Pilots in public hearings and TRPA dialogs regarding the proposal.  The pilot’s group met with TRPA staff to explain their position, applicable law and alternative mitigation measures.  As the group’s attorney, Lori Gualco, commented later, “By treating the TRPA as part of the team instead of an enemy, we were able to present the correct facts and use the current regulations to show that there was adequate protection for both Lake Tahoe and the historic use of seaplanes at the lake.”

Through collaborative negotiations, the Lake Tahoe Seaplane Pilots and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) have agreed to remove new seaplane restrictions from TRPA’s Regional Plan update.  The full TRPA Board accepted the recommendation that seaplanes continue to enjoy their historic access to Lake Tahoe.  In turn, the Lake Tahoe Seaplane Pilots agreed to promote best practices noise abatement procedures for seaplanes visiting Lake Tahoe and to work cooperatively with the TRPA to implement policies and procedures that will assure seaplanes do not serve as a conduit for invasive species, protecting the lake environment for all.

Chuck Kimes

The ad-hoc group will remain engaged with the TRPA and other local stakeholders to assure seaplanes remain a part of the Lake Tahoe experience and good stewards of the Lake Tahoe environment for decades to come.  SPA and the Seaplane Pilots Foundation applaud the professional and ethical work of both the Lake Tahoe Seaplane Pilots and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency in crafting this win-win solution.  We also extend special recognition and kudos to Chuck Kimes for his leadership.

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