Feds invest in jewel of the Sierra | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Feds invest in jewel of the Sierra

RENO, Nev. (AP) – Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., has secured commitments for more than $5 million in federal funding to protect Lake Tahoe’s clear, blue waters.

Reid, a member of the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, also secured nearly $1 million in funding for other Nevada projects in the U.S. Interior Appropriations Bill for the 2000 fiscal year.

Since convening the Lake Tahoe Presidential Summit in 1997, Reid has helped spearhead efforts to protect Nevada’s crown jewel: Lake Tahoe.

To preserve its famous water clarity, the budget designates $1 million for seven erosion control projects along roadways, $1 million for various projects in Ward and Blackwood canyons, and $750,000 for the closure of old roads and the improvement of others.

It also includes $2.5 million for the purchase of environmentally sensitive lands in the Tahoe Basin. That funding is on top of the $2.5 million earmarked for such purchases in President Clinton’s budget.

”Mark Twain described Lake Tahoe as the ‘fairest place on Earth’ and I am doing all I can to see that it stays that way for generations of Nevadans and visitors alike,” Reid said.

”(This bill) will allow us to continue our efforts to preserve Lake Tahoe and its famed clarity.”

Regulators are stepping up efforts to help Tahoe because of its alarming loss of clarity over the last three decades.

Visibility in the lake once reached down as far as 160 feet, the world’s clearest waters prior to logging and mining that followed last century’s mining boom in the Virginia City area.

But scientists said visibility now stands at about 60 feet, and is still getting worse.

The budget includes the following for other northern Nevada projects: $230,000 to implement a historic Truckee River water agreement, $250,000 to study mercury levels of migrating loons at Walker Lake and $250,000 to study a proposed California Trail Interpretive Center in Elko.

The budget also designates $150,000 for a study of the endocrine disruption in fish at Southern Nevada’s Lake Mead.

”We must do all we can to see that Lake Mead continues to be a source of safe, clean drinking water for years to come and this funding will help in accomplishing that goal,” Reid said.

AP-WS-06-27-99 1815EDT

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