Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is a staunch fighter for Lake Tahoe. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

Growing up in the Bay Area it would be hard not to at least know of Dianne Feinstein.

I was in eighth grade in 1978 when she became mayor of San Francisco after the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk.

I’m sure I didn’t know who she was until then even though she had been a county supervisor since 1969. I wasn’t following San Francisco politics even though I read our local paper (Contra Costa Times) regularly while in high school.

The first story I covered involving Feinstein was in summer 1986 when I was an intern at the Peninsula Times-Tribune in Palo Alto. (It ceased publication in March 1993.) What I remember is that she was christening some vessel.

I didn’t find anything about it on a Google search and don’t have clips from then, so I can’t share any details. What I vaguely remember is being a bit awed by her. That’s what happens when you are a 20-year-old on her first paid newspaper job. (I use paid loosely.)

It was in Tahoe that I got to know Feinstein better. By this time she was a U.S. senator, having first been elected in 1992. The 89-year-old announced this month she will retire when her term ends in 2024.

If you assume she’s a raging liberal from The City, then you don’t know her history or her votes.

What I want to remind people is her love of Lake Tahoe. Until 2021 she owned a large compound on the West Shore. It sold for about $31 million.

She had intimate knowledge about the lake because of that second home that other politicians would not be privy to.

Feinstein helped bring more than a billion dollars in federal money to the Lake Tahoe Basin. Some was allocated for the lake, some for the forest. While that’s an oversimplification, it boils it down to the two environmental aspects of the basin that matter most—water and land.

She has been in a regular rotation with other California and Nevada lawmakers as host of the annual Lake Tahoe Environmental Summit since they started after President Bill Clinton’s visit in 1997.

In 2021, she received the inaugural Dianne Feinstein Lake Tahoe Award at the environmental summit. The recognition was created to honor “exemplary leaders with a proven track record of several decades of work to improve Lake Tahoe’s clarity, natural beauty, and overall environmental health.”

(Last year Charles Goodman—considered the godfather of limnology, the study of fresh water—received the honor.)

I’m not sure what more can or should be done to honor Feinstein as a steward of Lake Tahoe, but I for one am glad she has been such an integral part in trying to preserve the environmental health of Lake Tahoe.

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