The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency (TRPA) on Wednesday recognized exceptional projects completed in 2016 with Best in Basin awards. Now in its 27th year, Best in Basin showcases projects around the lake that demonstrate exceptional planning, implementation, and compatibility with Tahoe’s natural environment and communities.
“People are making tremendous progress to restore and conserve Lake Tahoe’s natural environment, improve the vitality of our communities, and make the region more sustainable,” said Joanne S. Marchetta, executive director of TRPA. “The amount of partnership and collaboration demonstrated by this year’s award winners, and the number of privately funded projects, shows Lake Tahoe is working together like never before.”
This year Sitka was honored to receive a Best in Basin award for development of the Lake Tahoe Environmental Improvement Program (EIP) Project Tracker. TRPA flew the full Sitka project team – Laryea, Liz, Ray, John, and Matt – to accept the award in person and celebrate the EIP Project Tracker’s basin-side adoption and unprecedented success. As part of the celebration, the team visited a handful of project sites both from the land and water, including bike paths, stormwater catchments, and treatments of aquatic invasive species.
The Tracker puts the full story of the EIP at the fingertips of anyone with a computer – all projects, which entities funded them, when and where they were completed, and what they accomplished. According to TRPA’s press release, “no small feat for a program with more than 50 public and private partners that have invested more than $2 billion over two decades in projects to conserve and restore Lake Tahoe’s environment.”
Changing the way such a large program tracks its funders, accomplishments, and performance is a significant undertaking. It would not have been possible without the long-term leadership and daily diligence of TRPA’s Ken Kasman and Jeanne McNamara.
I believe when we look back at our almost 10 years of designing and building systems like this, it’s not a stretch to say this is some of our best work. While tempting to attribute that to our tens of thousands of hours, this project’s success has more to do with talented people at TRPA and its Lake Tahoe basin partners who are unflappable in their commitment to protect and conserve their communities, economies, and ecologies.
With initial funding from EPA, the project kicked off mid-2014 and the EIP Project Tracker became the system of record for project information a few months later. Sitka partnered with Environmental Incentives to ensure the performance-based framework they had previously defined for the EIP was appropriately translated into an online tool. Over the next couple of years, the system matured based on partner needs and feedback. Today it tracks over 850 projects and hundreds of project proposals.