Tahoe college instructor to head federal committee
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE – An earth science teacher has been appointed chairman of a committee that advises the federal government on how to spend millions of dollars earmarked for the Lake Tahoe Basin.
Betsy Julian, an instructor at Lake Tahoe Community College, is chairwoman of the Federal Advisory Committee, a group of 20 that represents public interests in the basin and conducts public meetings about four times a year.
“I love the mountains, and this place is so special it’s worth putting some energy into it,” said Julian, who holds a doctorate in geology.
Julian said she probably got appointed chairwoman because she is an educator with no particular bent.
“I’m not quite friendly with the development camp or the preservationist camp, just sort of in the middle,” Julian said. “And I have a lot of leadership experience in different ways, (plus) my science background.”
Part of the committee’s job is to recommend to federal officials which projects should be funded with the millions of dollars sent to Tahoe each year through the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act.
The act generates revenue through the auctioning of public land outside Las Vegas. The first installment of $37.5 million arrived in June.
Federal agencies in the basin expect to receive a similar installment for the next seven years as part federal government’s commitment to the Environmental Improvement Program. It calls for nearly $1 billion worth of environmental restoration in the basin to protect the fading clarity of Lake Tahoe.
“It’s a pretty big goal figuring out what to do with $30 million – how we can methodically, systematically and reasonably make those decisions,” Julian said. “And I’m new to the committee. I don’t know if that will be a drawback or a benefit. I have no preconceived notions. I’m sort of fresh to the whole experience.”
Julian will have some experienced planners to lean on, such as Andrew Strain, vice president of planning and governmental affairs for Heavenly Mountain Resort. Strain was appointed chairman of the Tahoe Working Group, a subgroup of the advisory committee designed to focus on how the money from Southern Nevada gets spent. There is also is scientific peer-review group to analyze what the projects aim to achieve, Julian said.
The Federal Advisory Committee’s next meeting, which is open to the public, is Feb. 2 at the U.S. Forest Service Supervisor’s Office, 35 College Drive.
For information, call (530) 543-2642.