Public Memorial Announced for Dennis Machida

Date: April 22, 2005

Time: 2:00 – 4:00 PM

Location: Edgewood – Tahoe Clubhouse, at Highway 50 and Lake Parkway in Stateline, Nevada.

For more information, call: Ray Lacey 530.542.5580 ext. 119.

Dennis Machida, Executive Director of the Tahoe Conservancy, died unexpectedly at a conference in Montana while he was delivering a speech on the effect of global warming on the health of Lake Tahoe.

The day will be remembered as one on which we lost a hero and a visionary, a true leader. And also a beautiful person and a good friend.

Tom Martens, a long time friend of Dennis, put it this way: “Dennis fit my definition of an environmental visionary — someone who could not only articulate a vision for Tahoe and the Sierra, but also move the bureaucratic, financial, scientific and political pieces to make the work happen. To turn success into action.”

But Dennis' work was always behind the scenes, and he never sought credit or camera time.

I personally recall cobbling together an introduction of Dennis for a meeting of the Sierra Cascade Land Trust Council. I spent hours in front of the computer, looking for news clips or biographies of this man everyone knew. In his 30-year public history, there are less than 90 news stories that bear his name. But one thing I found was this —

In 1987, as the newly appointed Executive Director of the Tahoe Conservancy, Dennis told the Tahoe Bonanza News that in order to have any chance of saving Lake Tahoe, the new Tahoe Conservancy would have to purchase 6,500 parcels that would otherwise be developed for hotels and homes.

Last year's Annual Report of the Tahoe Conservancy quietly announced that — after 17 years — slightly more than 6,500 parcels had been conserved by the Tahoe Conservancy.

No fireworks, no fanfare. Just hard work and dedication to this place we all love.

Dennis showed the same resolve and intensity of commitment to the creation of a Sierra Nevada Conservancy.

I first met him at a meeting in then-Senator Pat Johnston's office to discuss the 1999 effort to create a Sierra Nevada Conservancy. He crafted a blueprint for the Sierra that — with the combined efforts of many people — took nearly six years to put in place.

And on September 23, 2004 his blueprint became a reality on the banks of the Bear River, as Governor Schwarzenegger joined Assemblymembers Tim Leslie and John Laird in signing AB 2600.

I've spoken to Dennis many times since then, one of a large chorus hoping he would become the first Executive Director of the Sierra Conservancy. “I want to see my son play baseball,” he'd always reply.

And most recently, Dennis was the first to guide us in developing Assembly Bill 84, this year's bipartisan effort to create a Sierra Nevada License Plate.

“Would you reserve a Sierra plate?” I asked him. “I would” he said, “but my plate's a Tahoe.”

He is survived by his beloved wife Kathy and his 15 year old son Nathan.

A Memorial Service is planned for this Saturday, March 12 at 1:00 PM at the Mayhew Baptist Church, 3401 Routier Way in Rancho Cordova.


Additional Information: Tahoe Daily Tribune, “Tahoe Conservancy leaders dies at conference: Dennis Machida dies at research conference,” March 8, 2005.