Groups work to eradicate clams from Tahoe’s bottom |

Groups work to eradicate clams from Tahoe’s bottom

STATELINE (AP) – Plans are set to start eradicating populations of Asian clams from Lake Tahoe’s bottom.

On July 5 a coalition of agencies is scheduled to begin removing the dime-sized clams, mainly in the lake’s southeast corner.

Tests last year used plastic bottom barriers to kill clams by robbing them of food and oxygen.

“We’re moving forward with the bottom barrier approach. It’s effective enough,” said Jeff Cowen, community liaison for the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency.

Last year scientists experimented with different ways to remove the clams, including using vacuum-equipped divers to suck them off the lake bottom and onto barges.

But it was more economical and effective to use the bottom barriers. They worked well, resulting in 100 percent clam mortality within 28 days, according to scientists.

Groups plan to cover an acre at South Lake Tahoe’s Lakeside Marina and another acre at Marla Bay. Efforts to eradicate clams in Emerald Bay are slated to start in 2011.

Asian clams are native to Japan, Korea and China. Small populations of clams were first found in Tahoe in 2002. Their numbers have increased since then.

The clams can create problems like algae blooms and experts also are concerned they could chemically alter Tahoe’s waters, allowing the invasion of other nonnative species like quagga or zebra mussels. Those could be nearly impossible to remove and could severely damage the lake’s ecosystem.

The clams are a serious threat that can’t be ignored, said Steve Chilton, aquatic invasive species coordinator with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which will fund most of this summer’s $412,000 efforts.