Clear on Lake Tahoe

The recent visit by Bill Clinton and Al Gore brought a wave of publicity to Lake Tahoe, one of the country's most precious natural assets. The president and vice president saw for themselves the lake's growing cloudiness and praised local efforts to arrest the pollution that's causing it.

They also pledged an added $26.6 million over the next two years to help Tahoe's cleanup.

Saving the lake has been a rallying point for environmental activists for decades. But they were pitted against a rush to develop a tourism bonanza - Tahoe's crystal waters, alpine skiing in the Sierras, casinos on the Nevada shore. But the people who value the lake most - local business operators and residents, as well as Sierra Club members - are together finding the ability to temper unchecked development. The regional planning agency has taken some tough stands, such as a future ban on highly polluting watercraft. The to-do list could top $1 billion over the next 10 years.

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The Clinton team's support is a start on needed federal backing. Most critical, though, will be the local teamwork that has started to produce concerted action instead of controversy. All Americans have an interest in seeing how clearer thinking can lead to clearer waters.

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