Conservancy funds summer invasive plant projects |

Conservancy funds summer invasive plant projects

Jack Barnwell
Mollie Hurt, Tahoe Resource Conservation District's director of programs, hauls up a rake of plants from the Ski Run Marina during a tour with California Tahoe Conservancy staff and board members on Thursday. The CTC approved $200,000 to address invasive plant species at four spots around Lake Tahoe.
Jack Barnwell / Tahoe Daily Tribune |

The California Tahoe Conservation (CTC) Board of Directors approved $200,000 in funding for aquatic invasive plant species removal projects at its meeting Thursday.

Planned projects will be conducted at the Ski Run Marina/Channel, Lakeside Marina/Beach, Emerald Bay and the lake side of Truckee River Dam.

Penny Stewart, CTC environmental planner, and Sudeep Chandra, Ph.D., an limnologist and associate professor at University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) highlighted some of the projects past funding has accomplished.

The projects come from the CTC-funded Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) draft implementation plan, meant to find solutions to control or eliminate the 10 non-native plants and animals in the Lake Tahoe basin.

The project requires a local match, which may come from the CTC’s share of Proposition 1 funding. If not, it will come another account.

The AIS implementation plan was developed by UNR and Tahoe Resource Conversation District for $300,000.

Bottom barriers and diver-assisted hand and suction removal techniques will be conducted in a phased approach to remove the Eurasian milfoil weed at the four locations around Lake Tahoe.

Chandra, who has helped develop the AIS implementation plan, said the areas represent high-priority projects that can have eradication.

A federally approved management plan for Lake Tahoe provided the background for the implementation plan. The implementation plan was also developed by querying other agencies in the basin, quantifying the data and brought in seven experts from federal, state and academic backgrounds to analyze it and provide feedback.

The implementation plan lumps invasive species into three categories: ones with feasible management and eradication options, those with potential control options but lack of scientific knowledge on how to control it, and those that have no feasible options to control at the moment.

Eurasian milfoil and curlyleaf pondweed have pervaded large swaths of the shore around the lake, including the Tahoe Keys and Ski Run Marina. Both started popping up on the radar in the mid-1990s and exploded in the late 2000s.

Chandra said the invasive plants are responsible for algae growth and act as breeding grounds for warm water fish like trout and gold fish. Boats have contributed to the spread of the plant species.

Ski Run Marina, Lakeside Marina, Emerald Bay and Truckee River Dam have all been identified as priority areas.

“What we did was create a map model of the size of infestation of certain types of plant,” Chandra said. “We used boat data to figure out where they were at in the lake.”

Chandra stressed that data collection was necessary to better understand how invasive species spread and develop better ways to curtail or eradicate them.

“There are discrete knowledge gaps in the report that we recommend be looked at,” Chandra said. As a living document, it could be updated with the most recent scientific data.

He added that the boat inspection stations and program has had a positive impact on screening boats that might bring in invasive species from outside of the basin.

Mollie Hurt with the Tahoe Resource Conservation District demonstrated that with a solid drop of a rake into the marina. One tug pulled out silt-covered weeds. Hurt said that TRCD staff had collected similar samples on Wednesday.

Both Hurt and Chandra said that control efforts for milfoil have been successful. Curlyleaf pondweed, the other invasive plant species, on the other hand had mixed success.

Chandra said the science behind understanding how it spread and how it grew was still inconclusive. It would require a multi-season approach on how to understand it rather than jumping in.

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