Ever since our Surfin' Safari began in the early 1960's the relationship with The Beach Boys and water has been synonymous. Surfin', Catch a Wave, and Surfin' USA are songs which capture the feelings of being out in the water without a care in the world living a dream so many long to live no matter where they are from.
Fifty years later, Surf City has had its share of issues: Beaches are eroded and sometimes closed; the oceans are used as dumps, medical waste continues to wash up on our shores and carbon emissions deteriorates the air we breathe.
Considering how much the beach has inspired our music, we've always felt a responsibility to give back to the shorelines wherever we could and support efforts to protect the quality of our natural environment. Our songs such as Don't Go Near The Water and Summer In Paradise convey messages of concern on behalf of Mother Earth. Bruce Johnston and I became advisory board members for the SurfRider Foundation with thousands of members committed to preserving and protecting shorelines around the world. And The Beach Boys had the privilege of being invited to Rio De Janiero for the Earth Summit as world leaders discussed solutions for betterment of the planet. I'm proud of those accomplishments and they are a much a part of our legacy as our songs about girls and cars.
One of the most important lessons we can glean from the environmental movement is to "think globally and act locally." I'm proud to say a group of us did that recently in Lake Tahoe, when we dedicated a roundabout, at Highway 431 (Mount Rose Highway) and State Route 28.
What does a roundabout have to do with protecting our environment? Turns out, a lot. Roundabouts help with traffic flow and congestion which reduce carbon emissions which improve air and water quality, and in this case, erosion around the Lake. And in comparison to intersections, they are safer and produce fewer accidents and fatalities.
The Incline Village Roundabout came out of a unique public/private partnership designed to promote safety, protect Lake Tahoe's famed water clarity and air quality, and celebrate local artists and heritage. The local government also completed a major erosion control project between Incline Village and Crystal Bay-- four years ahead of schedule.
In 1981, I was fortunate to move to Lake Tahoe and it remains my home more than 30 years later. My wife Jacquelyne and I founded a school in the community, and our children have fond memories of their Tahoe childhood. Over the years we took part in the effort to exclude the use of the more harmful watercraft on the lake. We've had conversations with experts at UC Davis who study the lake and how to protect it. It's great to be part of a community, which has come together with a common goal, to preserve and protect the place we love and call home, Lake Tahoe.
This being an election year, there's a lot of talk about how people with different interests can't come together on an issue. That might be true at the national level (I hope not), but at the local level, if the right people work together for the common good, (in this case, environmentalists and construction companies, public and private financiers, residents and the state and local departments of transportation), we can accomplish goals which protect those things we collectively hold dear.
The music I have created, along with the other Beach Boys, has taken me all over the world. For these past 50 years I guess you could say "I get around." Now thanks to the efforts of a whole lot of good people in the Lake Tahoe community working to protect the lake and the home we love, I get a roundabout. That's pretty cool.
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