Bill would bring in hundreds of millions to Tahoe |

Bill would bring in hundreds of millions to Tahoe

Annie Flanzraich
Tahoe Daily Tribune

LAKE TAHOE – California and Nevada senators have introduced a bill that would fund $415 million in improvements to the Lake Tahoe area.

The Lake Tahoe Restoration Act would provide eight years of federal funding to the Tahoe Environmental Improvement Program. Sens. Harry Reid, D-Nev., Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., John Ensign, R-Nev. and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., sponsored the legislation, introduced Tuesday in the Senate.

The EIP is a joint program among federal, state, local and private stakeholders to improve Tahoe’s environment. The $2.5 billion program looks to improve water quality, restore lake clarity, reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire and prevent the introduction of aquatic invasive species at the lake, in addition to other environmental restoration efforts.

Federal agencies named in the bill to implement the legislative direction include the US Forest Service, Environmental Protection Agency and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The EIP update was unanimously endorsed by the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Governing Board in July.

“Recommitting to restoration efforts at Lake Tahoe is critical to the continued improvement and preservation of this special place,” Allen Biaggi, TRPA board chairman and Director of Nevada Dept. of Conservation & Natural Resources, said in a statement.

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Since the mid-1990s, $1.4 billion has been invested to improve environmental conditions at Lake Tahoe. The first Lake Tahoe Restoration Act was signed into law in Nov. 2000 and it authorized $300 million to be spent on restoration efforts.

The Lake Tahoe Restoration Act of 2009 includes authorization for:

$72 million in stormwater management and watershed restoration projects.

$136 million for priority restoration projects.

$136 million for forest fuels reduction projects.

$20 million to prevent the introduction of new invasive species, ongoing watercraft inspections and removal of existing aquatic invasive species.

$20 million for reintroduction of the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout.

$30 million for scientific programs and research which will produce information on long-term trends in the Basin and inform the most cost-effective projects.

Authorized funding for public outreach and education.