While Lake Tahoe is known for its crystal-clear waters and rugged mountain landscapes, the quality of the air in the Region is no less important. Poor air quality poses a risk to human health and reduces the public’s enjoyment of the natural environment. Air pollution also degrades ecosystem integrity and impairs water quality. Maintaining and improving air quality protects the quality of life for residents and visitors, maintains the Region’s tourism economy, and attains multiple thresholds.
The TRPA Bi-State Compact recognizes air as a natural resource and requires that TRPA establish environmental threshold carrying capacity standards for air quality. The Bi-State Compact directs TRPA to develop a land use plan that considers air resources, as well as a transportation plan that reduces air pollution from motor vehicles. TRPA is also required to attain federal, state, and local air quality standards for the portions of the Region in which they apply.
Air quality planning for the Lake Tahoe Basin includes the protection of human health (by maintaining pollution levels below what is considered unhealthy to breathe), maintaining the Basin’s aesthetic value through the protection of visibility, lake clarity (deposition of air pollutants play a significant role in the loss of Lake Tahoe’s famed clarity) and finally, forest health, which includes reducing the damage to vegetation from air pollutants, and coordination of forest health management goals with air quality goals (i.e. planning for prescribed burns). Sources of air pollution include engine exhaust, wood smoke, road dust, and particulate matter from construction dust.
The goal of the Air Quality and Transportation program is to reduce harmful emissions from wood heaters, to reduce residents’ and visitors’ dependency on the private automobile, and to remove fine sediment particles from roadway surfaces before they enter Lake Tahoe.
For more information, visit the TRPA’s Goals and Policies.