Invasive species battle at Lake Tahoe expands
TRUCKEE, Calif. (AP) – Conservation officials in the Sierra Nevada are expanding their efforts to combat invasive species at Lake Tahoe to other lakes and reservoirs in the area.
The Tahoe Resource Conservation District will work with local officials and conservation groups this summer to try to keep quagga and zebra mussels out of Donner and Independence lakes as well as Stampede, Boca and Prosser Creek reservoirs.
“It’s in everybody’s best interest,” said Dave Roberts, manager of the conservation district. “If (invasive species) get into one of those lakes, it’ll be that much harder to keep them out of Tahoe.”
The effort is being funded through a $231,000 grant from the Truckee Meadows Water Authority, the Reno area’s water provider. The agency is trying to protect the Truckee River, the Reno area’s major water source.
All boats must undergo an inspection before entering Tahoe in an effort to keep invasive mussels out of its pure, blue waters.
Roberts said while officials ultimately hope to expand boat inspections to the other lakes and reservoirs around Tahoe, many details still need to be worked out.
A series of meetings will take place throughout the spring to work out logistics of the pilot inspection program, he said.
“We thought we could take our experience in the Tahoe Basin and share it in the region, and ultimately have universal inspections,” he told Truckee’s Sierra Sun newspaper.
Nevada County Supervisor Ted Owens suggested one place in the Truckee area where boats would be checked, then given a sticker to show they’re clean when they show up to launch at one of the area’s lakes.
“I’ve gone through the rigors of launching a boat in the lake,” Owens said. “We have to make it user-friendly, perhaps create a universal inspection point.”
Roberts said the $231,000 could pay for six full-time inspectors for the summer.
“So far the inspections have been extremely well received. Locals understand the risk involved with invasive species,” Roberts said.
No quagga or zebra mussels have been found in Tahoe or any other area lakes or reservoirs. But if they become established within Tahoe or elsewhere in the area, they could massively disrupt aquatic ecosystems.
One federal study says a mussel infestation could cost Tahoe’s economy $22 million annual in lost tourism and property tax revenue.
Information from: Sierra Sun