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Region gets money to fight invasive species, led by $3.4 million for Lake Tahoe

The shoreline of Lake Tahoe with boats in the distance.
Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
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The shoreline at Lake Tahoe on June 28, 2022. The Lake Tahoe Basin faces ongoing threats from the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is giving $3.4 million to a tribe and environmental planners in the Mountain West to help them control and prevent aquatic invasive species.

The money, which comes from President Joe Biden’s infrastructure law, is going to the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California.

More than half of the funds are for removing Eurasian watermilfoil – an invasive weed – from the Taylor and Tallac creeks that flow into Lake Tahoe. The lake is located on Washoe ancestral lands.

Investments will also be made in two permanent stations to inspect boats for invasive species. Currently, three temporary stations operate along corridors into the Tahoe region during the summer months.

Jeff Cowen, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency’s public information officer, said the pandemic boosted the market for used boats, and that’s increased the need for inspections.

“We were seeing boaters come in from – boats far away – that were totally encrusted with invasive species, and they had no idea where their boat had been," Cowan said.

Cowen said one of the most devastating invasive species is the zebra mussel, which could destroy native ecosystems if introduced in Lake Tahoe. Idaho, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and Utah are also getting federal funding for projects designed to combat invasive plants.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Kaleb is an award-winning journalist who joined KUNR as a reporter in November 2021.
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