Vision / FAQ

Mission:

To Accelerate the adoption if Stewardship by Connecting, Facilitating, and Promoting Models of Sustainability in the Tahoe Truckee Watershed.

Geographic Region Served:

Lake Tahoe Headwaters to Pyramid Lake (including all the rural communities in the Tahoe/Truckee Watershed)

The problem we are trying to solve

The 1960’s auto-centric 2-season visitor model has run its course, by lacking a deeply engaging visitor experience while requiring Billions in ongoing restoration and mitigation required when actions degrade the pristine environment.

UC Davis and Dr Goldman’s 50 years of research has shown that human behavior in recreation, transportation and construction patterns are the key contributors to the degradation of the water quality. Reference: 2010 State of the Lake Report www.TERC.UCdavis.edu/stateof the lake/index.html

“Last ten years it cost $1.4Billion to clean up after ourselves.  It will cost $2.45B for the next ten years” 2010 TRPA Environmental Improvement Program www.conservationclearly.org

There are 2 states, 6 counties, numerous city and governmental agencies, NGO’s and businesses all working individually and often at odds with one another. The 2010 Prosperity Plan provides a prescription for collaboration in 3 economic clusters.  In the Sustainable Tourism Cluster, Sustainable Tahoe is identified as a key contributor in implementing this segment.

The solution we provide

Sustainable Tahoe, a 501c3 non-profit organization, is fostering behaviors conducive to creating a sustainable, prosperous and compassionate economy in the Lake Tahoe watershed.  We do this with community outreach, collaborative action and encouraging hands-on participation in activities that result in shifting behavior towards stewardship.

In order to return the water quality of Lake Tahoe to pre-1960 conditions, we need agencies, businesses, non-profits, residents and visitors to collaborate in geotourism campaigns.

 TAHOE GEOTOURISM EXPO 

A tangible experience of a geotourism model of sustainability and stewardship. 150-mile regional two-day demonstration is designed around the 12 geotourism principles as specified by National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations (NGCSD).   Increasing ‘Visitor Satisfaction’ via sustainable tourism models (geotourism) is in the “high priority action” section of the Lake Tahoe Basin Prosperity Plan (LTBPP) Final Report (pg. 57-79).

The Tahoe Expo is a region-wide (150 mile) open house of Tahoe’s sustainable successes configured as tourist friendly “Geotours” or “GeoTracks” : guided adventures that must meet three criteria: Fun, Meaningful (educational), and Low Carbon.

Unlike traditional fairs, festivals, Tahoe Expo demonstrates the  feasibility of building a community owned tourism menu using  Trinomics™ : a collaborative model designed by Sheri Woodsgreen CEO of One Globe Corporation.

The potential of the Tahoe Expo is to define Tahoe’s 21st Century brand.  Sustainable Tahoe operates in the background as a facilitator, rainmaker and clearing house for recasting Tahoe and the rural regions assets that already exist into potential geotourism attractions.

  1. Geotourism Implementation Framework (GIF): a template guiding destinations as to how to implement practices and components required to deploy sustainable geotourism. This includes: a geotourism curriculum http://www.slideshare.net/jacquiechandler/geotourism-cirriculum

that teaches the 12 geotourism principles. Our use of TriNomics ™ provides a collaborative guide for building GeoTracks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ua1rRc5gHw

Geotourism is an international strategy endorsed by five departments of the US Department of the Interior: http://www.slideshare.net/jacquiechandler/2008-mou

The Prosperity Plan. http://www.slideshare.net/jacquiechandler/lake-tahoe-prosperity-plan-36661230 has identified a Visitor Satisfaction cluster to address the needs of visitors that serve the environment and the economy – geotourism

There are over 20 US destinations actively working to implement this strategy. We have been working and mentoring with the first three to embrace this strategy in America: Gloria Bruce of Northeast Kingdom , John Cartwright of Appalachians and Steve Thompson from Crown of the Continent. 

Sierra Business Council is chartered with regional responsibility for the length of the Sierra and offers information and services to educate people about geotourism assets.

We facilitate to build alliances and create the open space for these alliances to form but our relationships are largely local. Our level of geotourism expertise is from producing the 150-mile geotourism exposition of stewardship which requires the collaboration of 55 to 85 NGO’s, Agencies and Business.

Our strongest asset is our relationship building, especially in the area of our native indigenous people of the Washoe and Paiute tribes. Their 10,000 years of stewardship is essential to  geotourism becoming a reality at the lake.  To our knowledge, no other organization at Lake Tahoe has made and encourage this link trying to bring native culture and history forward as strongly as Sustainable Tahoe.  Members of the Washoe tribe have participated in every public event Sustainable Tahoe has sponsored and are partners with us in advocating for geotourism and the message of stewardship.  We believe it is of utmost importance that their presence and story be central the recovery of Lake Tahoe.

 

Resource and challenges

  1. Resources:

Volunteers and sponsors keep the momentum going. We recruit the most volunteers and sponsors around the Expo (30-50 per Expo). Ormat Technologies, one of the largest geothermal companies in the world, based in Reno provided operational funding in 2012.

We received a $50,000 grant in Google AdWords.  WaiSUP Boars donated SUP Boards to support GeoTracks and funding efforts. Vapur provided us reusable Vapur bottles. Pure Vida has created a special Sustainable tahoe bracelet that provides $1 donation for every $5 bracelet sold. Our Facebook page is an interactive clearing house for local conservation efforts and events that support the lake.

  1. Challenges:Sustainable Tahoe’s role is not to overlap or compete with the existing tourist/ecological infrastructure and missions, but to build alliances and encourage ways to demonstrate sustainable geotourism success stories. Groups working on behalf of the lake work in isolation and sometimes at cross purposes with one another.  As the heyday of federal largesse ends and more groups compete for dwindling dollars, competition drives more agendas than collaboration.Sustainable Tahoe’s challenge is educating  key players to understand the benefits of contributing effort and dollars towards the Tahoe Expo which is a community venue demonstrating collaboration on a scale beyond what other public events attempt.  Reliable support is hard to achieve until enough potential resources understand how Tahoe Expo is an investment to introduce a sustainable 4-season economy.

How we use information from others to inform programs/services

  1. Learn from others. Gloria Bruce from the Northeast Kingdom was an early mentor guiding us on how geotourism works, what it really is and how to emerge it. The Northeast Kingdom shares similar assets and challenges – high end resort and rural farming. They realized that the key is to ask “what do you love and not want to lose and what is one thing you are willing to do?”. This shifted focus from competing to collaborating around highlighting unique assets that attracted visitors to stay longer, explore more, return sooner and share new exciting stories.
  1. Work with sustainability experts. David Hansen, (a Sustainable Tahoe founder), helped Embassy Suites save $400K in the year they implemented energy monitoring, composting and other measures in sustainability.  David shared this turn-around model at our 2010 Stewardship Congress to raise awareness and motivate others to lead-by-example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1s88FsFkdU8
  1. Collaboration with Education. We created an accredited collaboration between with Embassy Suites and Sierra Nevada College. Students designed a pilot program of geotourism adventures the resort could further develop into tour packages to increase shoulder season revenue. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rl_J9YOFKag.We’ve collaborated with Dr Susan Ross at SJSU to guide her 50 San Jose State University students in how to design geotourism adventures they would like to experience. Here is an example of what was delivered: http://www.slideshare.net/jacquiechandler/geotrack-wild-mustangs-native-culture
  1. Board Retreats to revisit and refine our mission, goals, objectives and measurements of success.  Sustainable Tahoe current configuration and staffing is adequate for continuing as we have been, but not ready to power us to the next stage. Sustainable Tahoe is preparing to become more stable, more pro-active and more effective as new leadership asserts itself.We are in communication with National Geographic’s geotourism dept and the US Department of Interior with reports on our progress and how we might work more closely to further the mission.
  1. Geotourism Implementation Framework (GIF) outlines best practices for adoption and deployment of geotourism.  Our region- wide database identifies local sustainable organizations, businesses, and agencies.  We collaborate with the representatives of these organizations for more innovative ways to promote what they do in the context of geotourism.Our Executive Director attends regular meetings with regional agencies and organizations such as the Lake Tahoe Sustainability Collaborative (LTSC), Tahoe Transportation District (TTD), and through our advisory board and board  we are kept apprised of developments in TRPA and the Tahoe Resource  Conservation District (TRCD).Additionally, we work and partner with organizations that range from small Tahoe businesses such as Elevated Fitness (first Carbon neutral fitness center in the US) through Bike the West (Tour De Tahoe and America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride) though large businesses like the (former) Embassy Suites and Sierra Nevada College.  We work and have consulted with El Dorado County Supervisor Chair Norma Santiago, and have a close working relationship with City of Lake Tahoe Parks Director Lauren Thomaselli.

 

Our planning process

Our bi-weekly or weekly meetings with volunteers and quarterly  board retreats gather momentum to execute on key initiatives. These meetings are where we design, review and/or implement our Strategic Plan. Our annual Tahoe Expo is produced by interns, volunteers and many facets of the community.

Our hands-on Board focus on the overriding goals of the organization and collaboratively leverage strengths and associations in the community to ensure our success. Each board member is active in promoting our mission.

Collaboration: Our  philosophy and example of collaborative successes

Each Tahoe Expo is a proof point in the ability of our diverse region to collaborate.  Tahoe Expo collaborates; GOV, . ORG and .COM to showcase fun, meaningful, and low carbon adventures.

  • Non-Profit / .Org:  Local experts guide Geotours to enrich understanding
  • Agencies/ .Gov: provide grants & access to sensitive and remote areas
  • Business/.Com: sponsor + ‘eat, sleep, shop’, gear & transit (reduced VMT’s )

In 2010 we were honored by Senator Reid for holding the first ever “Stewardship Congress”.  In many cases for the first time,  people representing various conservation and stewardship efforts (the Washoe opened the event) came together to learn, share and transform their projects into geotourism visitor adventures for the 2011 Tahoe Expo.

Geotourism was further confirmed and endorsed by Al Gore at the 2013 Tahoe Executive Summit when he said, ” the future will look at this Lake and either ask, ” Why didn’t you do something?….or “How did you do this?”   And if we succeed in protecting Lake Tahoe our answer will be because we found a way to make political collaboration a renewable resource”

If we, as a watershed, cannot learn to work together on the serious issue that we and future generations all share, then nothing will change and the treasure that is the pristine Lake Tahoe will be lost to us all.