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Lake Tahoe receives $3.4 million to help tackle invasive species

Two men stand near a creek. The creek is covered by a giant tarp.
Tahoe Regional Planning Agency
Flickr Creative Commons
Giant tarps, or "benthic barriers" were placed over the Taylor and Tallac creeks to kill off the invasive aquatic plant, Eurasian Watermilfoil.

In early June, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California received $3.4 million. The money is part of a 5-year grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to improve the health of Lake Tahoe.

The funding will be used to construct two permanent watercraft inspection stations along the Lake Tahoe shoreline. The stations will help stop invasive species, such as the quagga mussel and the New Zealand mud snail, from spreading in the lake.

Dennis Zabaglo, aquatic invasive species program manager for the agency, said they currently have three temporary inspection stations which are inconvenient.

"We have to de-mobilize and mobilize every year,” he said. “So it's a strain on our resources and time to get those ready each season and also break them down.”

The permanent stations, which will be located at Spooner Summit and Meyers, will provide mandatory inspections of boats entering the lake and cleaning services to avoid new invasions.

In addition, the grant will be used to help in the efforts to stop the spread of the invasive Eurasian Watermill foil in the nearby wetland, Zabaglo said.

The project involved the placement of large mats on the bottoms of the Taylor and Tallac creeks to starve the invasive aquatic plants of sunlight before they reached the lake. Now the mats need to be removed, which will be done using this year’s funding.

The grant money will also help address the priorities of the Washoe Tribe, said Lisa Heki, project leader for the Lahontan National Fish Hatchery. These goals include the Máyala Wáta restoration project and the reintroduction of the native Lahontan cutthroat trout to the lake.

She said the tribe offers key insight into land management that mainstream agencies often overlook.

“They bring a really critical perspective for sustainable management and protection of native species,” Heki said.

The grant is part of a larger $17 million investment in Lake Tahoe. The funding comes from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which is focused on restoring multiple critical ecosystems throughout the country.

The photo included in this story is licensed under Flickr Creative Commons.

Sydney Peerman is a student reporter for KUNR and the Hitchcock Project for Visualizing Science, which is part of the Reynolds School of Journalism.

Sydney Peerman is a student reporter for KUNR and the Hitchcock Project for Visualizing Science. She is interested in reporting on science, climate, environmental policy, public health and other important topics in Reno, Lake Tahoe and surrounding areas.
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