A new agreement between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Tahoe Regional Planning Agency will bring $1 million in federal funding to the fight against invasive species at Lake Tahoe.
The agreement, announced earlier this past week, will allocate money to help control, prevent and monitor harmful aquatic invasive species — a major threat to Tahoe's famous clarity.
"Aquatic invasive species (AIS) pose a major threat to the ecosystem health and economic vitality of the Tahoe Basin. The impacts of these invasions could be substantial as they crowd out native populations, impair habitats and water quality, and reduce recreational opportunities," Laura Whitney, program manager with the U.S. Army Corps, said in a press release.
According to Whitney, this agreement is the second one that will bring federal dollars to the fight against aquatic invasive species. The first agreement, reached in 2008 with the California Tahoe Conservancy, helped establish the roadside boat inspection program that is now used throughout the Tahoe Basin.
The program has been credited as a critical instrument in preventing the arrival of new invasive species.
Inspectors have performed over 70,000 vessel inspections and decontaminated 32,576 of them since 2008, the Tribune previously reported. During that time inspectors have found hundreds of vessels containing foreign species such as mussels, snails and plant material.
"This new agreement will be carrying on with efforts of prevention to rapidly respond to any potential new threats of AIS in Lake Tahoe due to increased recreation, as well as to control and monitor existing populations," Whitney said. "The agreement also provides a funding component for AIS education, outreach, and research."
TRPA, the Corps, and several dozen other partners have all teamed up to increase projects and programs intended to control or eradicate populations of harmful invasive species already in Tahoe.
"This agreement will strengthen the aquatic invasive species control program at Lake Tahoe, providing critical funding to address the challenges we are facing with invasive aquatic plants in the Tahoe Keys and at Ski Run Marina and invasive Asian clams at Sand Harbor State Park," said Dennis Zabaglo, aquatic resources program manager for TRPA.
The funding from the Corps, according to TRPA, also will be used in part to develop a monitoring plan that ensures consistent lake-wide surveys of native and invasive plant species.