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Tahoe Basin
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We are working with collaborative partners to develop short courses and workshops to occur onsite at Lake Tahoe, with associated distributed learning environments.

A motivating challenge. There are already research groups at Lake Tahoe from many universities; it is a natural environment in which to study complex ecosystems and ecosystem forecasting. Sierra Nevada College is committed to playing a key role in local community education.

The University of California has recognized the scientific and public importance of the Lake Tahoe region by establishing a new institution on the north shore of Lake Tahoe, the Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC), a partnership of the University of California at Davis, Sierra Nevada College, the Desert Research Institute, and the Rand Corporation. With advice from TERC and other institutions we will develop education/ outreach components for this project.

The Tahoe Basin has a clear need for Decision Support involving a range of users, many of whom need to learn how to use such systems. So Tahoe is an ideal candidate testbed for a collaborative model to test capabilities and raise the level of public awareness of what Decision Support Frameworks can contribute to regional environmental management challenges.

An inspiring location. Lake Tahoe is admired for its great depth and clarity and beautiful alpine surroundings. Most of the terrain is mountainous, limiting development mainly to relatively flat areas along tributary streams. During the last half-century, increased human activity in the lake basin has caused the lake's clarity to decrease at a rate of about 1 foot per year (30 cm/yr). Major recreational activities within the basin include casino gaming in Nevada, alpine and cross-country skiing, golfing, water sports, hiking, fishing, camping, and bicycling.

Lake Tahoe is located along the border of California and Nevada. About one-third of the basin is in Nevada and two-thirds is in California. The basin is bounded by the Sierra Nevada to the west and the Carson Range to the east. The Lake Tahoe Basin was formed by geologic block (normal) faulting about 2 to 3 million years ago. The down-dropping of the Lake Tahoe Basin and the uplifting of the adjacent mountains resulted in dramatic topographic relief in the region. Mountain peaks rise to more than 10,000 ft (3,048 m) above sea level. The surface of Lake Tahoe has an average elevation of about 6,225 ft (1,897 m).

Recognizing the threat to Lake Tahoe, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA), the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and the Tahoe Research Group (TRG) of the University of California, Davis are working to keep Lake Tahoe beautiful. They are monitoring sediment and important nutrients flowing into the lake from the streams and ground-water aquifers in the basin.

A tradition evolving. Lake Tahoe was occupied by the Washoe Tribe for many centuries. Forbears of the Washoe tribe revered and preserved this place, D’Owaga, over millennia. Half a century after contact with pioneer settlers, Tahoe was severely scarred by logging, mining, and settlement. In a more enlightened 20th century, much of the degradation has been halted, and even reversed. The Washoe Indians were hunting and fishing in the area long before General John C. Fremont came to Lake Tahoe in 1844 during his exploration of the Far West. Since then, public appreciation of Lake Tahoe has grown. Efforts were made during the 1912, 1913, and 1918 congressional sessions to designate the basin as a national park but were unsuccessful.

Since 1978, TRPA has been an integral part of Lake Tahoe Basin’s rejuvenation. The Tahoe GeoLibrary, to serve a wide range of users, aims to become magnet for cross-disciplinary, problem-focused learning teams attracted to this learning environment to better understand complex ecosystems and to work on a significant environmental challenge — saving Lake Tahoe.


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