Lake Tahoe: Microcosm of environmental history

TitleLake Tahoe: Microcosm of environmental history
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Conference1999
AuthorsMergen, B.
Conference Name67th Annual Western Snow Conference
Series TitleProceedings of the 67th Annual Western Snow Conference
Date PublishedApril 1999
PublisherWestern Snow Conference
Conference LocationSouth Lake Tahoe, California
KeywordsEnvironmental management

Lake Tahoe can be seen as both a microcosm and a symbol of the American environmental movement. From John C. Fremont's tantalizing glimpse through the mist of a February morning in 1844 to the well-publicized presidential summit in 1997, the Lake has been described as sublime and squalid, enchanting and endangered, resource and resort, wilderness utopia and urban wilderness. As the environmental movement has evolved from preservation to conservation to sustainability to 'deep ecology,' debates about Lake Tahoe have mirrored these frequently conflicting philosophies. This paper illustrates the principal issues in environmental history with examples from Lake Tahoe. I also argue that water clarity as a symbol for the total environment complicates decision-making and management.