The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law was signed in November 2021 and made a historic $17 million investment in the Lake Tahoe Basin. A total of $3.4 million in year-one funds will support proven projects and expand collaborative efforts in Lake Tahoe.
In the center of Washoe ancestral lands, Lake Tahoe holds significant cultural importance for the Washoe Tribe and is part of the historic range of Lahontan cutthroat trout, an important food source to the Tribe. To participate in restoration efforts in the Lake Tahoe watershed, the Washoe Environmental Protection Department was established in 1998 and has been a key partner in ongoing restoration work.
Another key partner is the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, who play a lead role in aquatic management through innovative removal methods, community engagement, and new aquatic invasive species prevention.
The Lake Tahoe Basin faces ongoing threats from the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species. Common invasive weeds, like the Eurasian watermilfoil, can significantly disrupt aquatic ecosystems and crowd out native species. Aquatic invasive species management is a top priority of the Lake Tahoe Environmental Improvement Program, one of the most comprehensive restoration programs in the nation.
Increased Engagement by Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California: $240,000
The Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California will increase their engagement by providing traditional land management insights into restoration efforts in the Lake Tahoe watershed. funds will advance efforts by Washoe Environmental Protection Department to have a greater role in environmental management and to contribute to planning, monitoring and control of aquatic invasive species from a Washoe Tribe perspective.
Washoe Environmental Protection Department staff will also contribute to removal of nonnative fish species and to monitor and advance the recovery of native fish species, especially Lahontan cutthroat trout and whitefish.
Máyala Wáta Restoration Project: $350,000
Meeks Bay is a traditional summer camp for the Washoe Tribe and holds traditional and cultural value to the Tribe. Meeks Meadow and Meeks Creek have been important food, medicine, and fishing sites for the Washoe Tribe for thousands of years.
In 2019, the Washoe Tribe entered into a stewardship agreement to restore the ecological and hydrological function of Meeks Meadow and Meeks Creek. Working with partners, Washoe Environmental Protection Department will mechanically thin encroaching conifers in order to restore precious groundwater into the meadow ecosystem, ultimately improving habitat for all native species.
Bilingual Aquatic Invasive Species Education and Outreach: $64,635
Lake Tahoe residents and visitors are diverse and include a significant number of Spanish-language audiences. Public education is critical when it comes to preventing the introduction of aquatic invasive species into the region, but many educational materials are not currently available in Spanish. This investment will fund rack cards, educational kiosks, billboards, public service announcements, trainings, and other educational materials to be disseminated throughout northern California and Nevada in both Spanish and English.
Permanent Watercraft Inspection Station at Spooner Lake: $250,000
The Lake Tahoe Watercraft Inspection Program is one of the most successful programs in the country, with no new invasions discovered since program inception in 2008. Currently, inspections occur at three off-ramp, temporary inspection stations along corridors into the region during the summer months. This investment will fund two new permanent inspection stations to ensure efficient long-term inspections.
The Spooner location has been identified in the Nevada State Route 28 Corridor Management Plan, that incorporates education and outreach kiosks, transit, parking, restrooms, and trailhead access points.
Permanent Watercraft Inspection Station at Meyers: $250,000
The Meyers location has been identified through the California Tahoe Conservancy's Asset Land Program and will include multi-use aspects such as education and outreach, workforce housing, and a transit hub. Planning for this site is in the initial phases with next steps to develop conceptual plans, agreements with the Conservancy, and environmental assessments.
Funding under this agreement will be used to support the development of design plans for the stations, with future agreements focusing on environmental review, permitting, and construction.
Taylor and Tallac Creeks Aquatic Invasive Species Control Project: $1,550,000
The Taylor-Tallac ecosystem is the largest functioning wetland in the Basin, with the potential to provide habitat for almost every native species in the Basin. The Taylor and Tallac creeks and marshes are infested with approximately 17 acres of the invasive aquatic weed Eurasian watermilfoil, which is currently being smothered with benthic barriers designed to block sunlight and inhibit growth of these aggressive plants.
This project epitomizes the private-public partnership embodied by the Lake Tahoe Environmental Improvement Program, with funding from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, and the Tahoe Fund. This project will serve as a model moving forward as it is the largest eradication project being implemented to date, and the first time aquatic invasive species treatments have occurred in this type of environment, which is a crucial ecosystem for sustainability of Lake Tahoe.
Tahoe Marina Redesign Feasibility Study: $206,229
Most aquatic invasive species infestations occur within and around the marinas on Lake Tahoe. This investment will fund a feasibility study to determine the potential for redesign at marinas around the lake to help reduce potential aquatic invasive species infestation.
The goals of marina redesign would be to restore natural shorelines and decrease habitat for aquatic invasive species.
Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding is being used to control and eradicate harmful aquatic invasive species, so that Lake Tahoe and its tributaries can be restored to its natural state. This will benefit important native species recovery efforts, such as for Lahontan cutthroat trout, allowing them to thrive in their historic range. Lahontan cutthroat trout are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act, are the largest species of cutthroat trout in the world (Tahoe record: 31 pounds) and hold cultural and spiritual significance for the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California. The work being done through Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding will improve water quality and ecosystem health, allow native species to re-establish, and restore important ecosystem functions.
For more information about Lake Tahoe’s Aquatic Invasive Species Program and projects funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, please visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency website. Images are available in the photo gallery on the Flickr website.
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