A new bill is aimed at helping to restore the Lake Tahoe Basin by authorizing $415 million over 10 years to programs that protect the region from a number of imminent threats, according to U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office.
The Lake Tahoe Restoration Act — which was written by Feinstein, D-Calif., and co-sponsored by Sens. Harry Reid, D-Nev., Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. — would continue the federal commitment to Lake Tahoe by authorizing the funds to help improve Lake Tahoe’s water clarity, reduce risks from catastrophic wildfires, combat invasive species and restore and protect the environment in the Lake Tahoe Basin, according to a news release.
The legislation, which was introduced Thursday, would authorize $243 million over 10 years for the highest-priority restoration projects based on scientific data. At least $138 million would be allocated to stormwater management and watershed restoration projects that are scientifically determined to be the most effective ways to improve water clarity.
The legislation also requires a prioritized ranking of environmental restoration projects and authorizes $80 million for the Lake Tahoe stakeholders to implement these priority projects. Those priority projects are aimed at improving water quality, forest health, air quality and fish and wildlife habitat around Lake Tahoe.
The first Lake Tahoe Restoration Act was signed in November 2000 and authorized $300 million in federal money for restoration efforts. Funds allowed by the authorization were part of an approximately $1.7 billion Environmental Improvement Program to restore Lake Tahoe’s environment that included state, local and private funding.
Previous attempts to renew the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act were introduced in 2009 and 2011, but failed to pass.
Where the money would go
If approved, the 2013 bill would:
• Authorize $135 million over 10 years for hazardous-fuels-reduction projects to reduce the threat of fire in the Lake Tahoe Basin and create incentives for communities to have funding for defensible-space inspections and enforcement, according to the release.
• Allocate $30 million to watercraft inspections and removal of invasive species, and require that all watercraft be inspected to prevent the introduction of invasive aquatic species in accordance with the Lake Tahoe Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan.
• Spend $20 million over 10 years for the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout Recovery Plan.
• Authorize $30 million over 10 years for scientific programs and research into long-term trends in the basin and inform the most cost-effective projects.
• Prevent the start of mining operations in the basin.